Rather than create its own set of state practices, the state of Louisiana complies with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA. The state regulations regarding breaks for employees, such as meals, rests, vacations, sick leave, and holidays are in accordance with the FLSA. The Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, covers sick leave and Louisiana law makes no amendments to the federal guidelines.
In accordance with the FLSA, Louisiana employers are only entitled to a meal break if they are under the age of 18 and work for longer than five consecutive hours. Adults do not receive the same meal provisions, which are generally considered to be breaks of 30 minutes or more. If an employer choose to provide a meal break, whether the employee is an adult or not, the employer does not need to compensate the employer for the break.
While Louisiana law does not require employee break times, if an employer chooses to do so, the employer must count short breaks -- those lasting 5 to 20 minutes -- as compensated work hours. However, if the employee spends more than the allotted time away from work, and the employer notifies the employee that this is unacceptable, the extra time away does not need require compensation.
Louisiana law has no state requirements for an employer to grant either paid or unpaid sick leave; however, Louisiana employers must follow the guidelines set forth by the FMLA. The FMLA states that if an employee worked with an employer for at least 12 months before the requested leave, even if they are nonconsecutive, with a minimum of 1,250 worked hours, the employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave for birth; child care of a newborn within 1 year of age; adoption/foster care placement; to care for immediate family members with serious health conditions; or for the employee's own serious health condition. The FMLA also covers military caregiver leave; this means that employees whose spouses, children or parents are on covered active duty and has a serious illness or injury, the employee is entitled to 26 weeks of unpaid sick leave to care for them.
Employers in Louisiana do not have to legally provide paid or unpaid vacation benefits. Any employer who does offer such benefits is only bound by their own established policy, or by whatever contract is between the employer and the employee. However, employers must pay out earned vacation time when an employee leaves, even if terminated, unless the employee fails to comply with stated conditions -- like failing to give two weeks notice, for example. Employers may also put a cap on how much vacation time can build up, and may institute a policy whereby the employee has to use his accrued time or lose it.