Q: Can my employer require walking time from my workstation to the rest area of choice be included in my 15 minute break?
I'm a smoker and I work for that one mega chain grocery/department store that everyone knows, our management recently "reminded" us (without having told me in the first place) that our 15 minute breaks start when we leave our current "workstation" and end when we return to said "workstation". However it can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes in total to walk to and from that "workstation" and the smoking area so I want to know if they're in the wrong or if they're just legally allowed to discriminate against those with an addiction for their own gain (it's been specifically noted that they reminded us for the sake of productivity)
A: Federal law does not require employers to offer any break periods. As a result, if employers offer break time, they can generally offer this on their own terms. The one exception to this rule is that breaks of 20 minutes or less generally must be paid. As long as your 15-minute breaks are paid, this arrangement is permissible.
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