Indiana Labor Laws for the Minimum Number of Hours Off Between Shifts

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Feel like your employer is working you too hard? Wondering what your rights are as an employee? If you’re in the state of Indiana, you may be surprised to find out that employers have almost no obligations to provide time off under state laws. Indiana has very few laws pertaining to mandatory employee breaks, time off between shifts, days off and total hours worked. In fact, unless you are a minor or a nursing mother, employers in Indiana are not required to provide lunch breaks, meal breaks or breaks for any other purposes. Similarly, there is no state law that requires a certain amount of time off between shifts.

Indiana State Law on Breaks for Employees

With the exception of minors and nursing mothers, the Indiana Department of Labor does not have a law requiring that employers provide breaks of any kind – lunch, rest, bathroom – to employees. However, some workers, such as pilots, truck drivers and other employees covered under collective bargaining agreements may be entitled to breaks through their contracts or the rules of the federal regulatory agency for that industry. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration sets strict rules on flight crew member and pilot flight time, rest breaks between shifts and total hours worked to decrease the dangers of fatigue. Outside of a contract or industry regulatory requirement, most breaks allowed for employees in Indiana are at the employer’s discretion.

Breaks Required for Expressing Breast Milk

Breaks for nursing mothers who need to express breast milk during working hours are covered by both state and federal laws. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must provide nursing mothers a reasonable amount of break time to express milk throughout the day. However, these breaks do not need to be compensated breaks, and employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the FLSA if the requirement would be an undue hardship.

Indiana law does not specifically require employers to give women breaks to pump breast milk, but does state that all employers with 25 or more employees must provide a location where the employee can express breast milk in privacy during break periods. Indiana law also mandates reasonable paid breaks for employees of state and political subdivisions to express breast milk.

Indiana Labor Laws: Breaks for Minors

While Indiana does not have laws requiring breaks for most adult workers, employers must provide breaks for minor employees. Employees under 18 who work six or more consecutive hours must get one or two breaks of at least 30 minutes total. These breaks do not need to be paid, but they must be documented by the employer in a break log and must be provided during the employee’s shift.

Federal Labor Laws on Lunch or Coffee Breaks

Like Indiana law, federal law does not require employers to provide lunch or coffee breaks. The Federal Labor Standards Act does state that when employers choose to allow short breaks, those short breaks must be compensated. These breaks, usually between 5 and 20 minutes, are included in the employee’s total time worked during the week for overtime calculations. However, when the employer provides a longer meal period, generally of 30 minutes or more, federal law does not require compensation.

Indiana Law on Time Off Between Shifts

Indiana does not have any laws pertaining to time off between shifts. Your employer may legally require you to work two shifts with only a short time in between. Like break rules, there are some industries that have safety rules requiring a set number of hours between shifts. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration, requires that flight crew members be given a 10-hour rest period between reserve or flight duty periods, with a minimum opportunity for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Additionally, flight crew members must have at least 30 consecutive hours free from all duty within a 168-hour period.

Days Off Under Indiana Labor Laws

Indiana state law considers health insurance, vacation days, sick days, personal days, holidays, pensions and profit-sharing plans to be fringe benefits, and there is no law that an employer must provide any fringe benefits. But, if they do, employees cannot be denied benefits or get lesser benefits because of certain discriminatory reasons, such as age, disability, race, color, sex, national origin or religion.

Not only does an employer not have to provide days off, if the employer does allow an employee to take time off for health, vacation or holidays, the employer does not have to pay the employee for that time. Indiana law requires that employees be paid only for actual time worked.

Days Off Under Federal Labor Laws

While there is no Indiana law providing a right to time off, some Indiana employees may be entitled to leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. The FMLA allows eligible employees to take an unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. The employee must be eligible, and the employer must be a covered employer for the FMLA to apply.

Covered employers include:

  • Private-sector employers with 50 or more employees.
  • Local, state or federal public agencies.
  • Public or private elementary and secondary schools.

Eligible employees are those that:

  • Work for a covered employer for at least 12 months.
  • Worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before the leave.
  • Work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

If the employee meets these requirements, she can take up to 12 weeks of leave during a 12-month period for eligible reasons, including:

  • Birth of a child or placement of a child for adoption or foster care.
  • Caring for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition.
  • Having a serious health condition prohibiting the employee from performing the essential duties of the job.
  • When a family member is called to active duty military status for a qualifying circumstance.

How Indiana Work Laws Apply to Hours Worked

Although Indiana employees have few rights when it comes to breaks and time off, employers in Indiana are required under federal law and Indiana state law to compensate employees for the actual time worked. When that time exceeds forty hours during a one-week period, nonexempt employees must be paid at one and a half times their regular rate of pay.

However, under Indiana law, there are many categories of employees who are exempt from overtime requirements, including, but not limited to:

  • People who work on a commission basis.
  • Members of a religious order who are working for that order.
  • Student nurses and funeral directors.
  • Medical school interns and resident physicians.
  • People employed by their own parent, spouse or child.
  • Agricultural labor workers.
  • People with physical or mental disabilities who work for nonprofit organizations whose main purpose is to provide therapy and rehabilitation through the employment of people with disabilities.

If you are a nonexempt employee and believe you have worked more than forty hours in a week without overtime compensation, you can make a claim to the nearest regional office of the federal U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. For questions about overtime claims, contact the U.S. Department of Labor at 317-226-6801 or the Indiana Department of Labor at 317-232-2655.

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About the Author

Sally Brooks is a writer living in New York City with her chunky toddler and patient husband. She graduated magna cum laude from the University Cincinnati College of Law and her work has been featured in Jurist and the Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review.