Although federal law also covers when Denver-area employees are entitled to a break, at least to some extent, Colorado has its own state-level rules that require employers in this state to give their employees certain breaks while they are on duty.
Specifically, under Colorado’s law, employers must give, and pay for, a 10-minute break for every four hours of an employee’s duty time. If it can be accommodated without imposing an undue burden, the break should fall somewhere in the middle of each four-hour split.
Moreover, when a person is scheduled to work for more than five hours in a row, an employer must provide a 30 minute break so that the employee can eat.
An employer does not have to offer compensation for this meal break so long as the employer ensures that the employee does not have to perform any work during the break and has permission to do as he or she wishes with this time. When the circumstances so warrant, and as an alternative, the employer must permit an employee to eat while on the job and get paid for the same.
When one thinks about it, employers who routinely fail to follow these laws cost their employees a lot of money. For instance, an employer who, subtly or not so subtly, insists that an employee keep working while clocked out for lunch is effectively stealing 30 minutes a day of that employee’s wages, since an employee can only be required to clock out if the he or she truly isn’t expected to do work.
As a result, a Denver employee may realize he or she has substantial wage and hour claims against his or her employer and may want legal assistance pursuing those claims.