Colorado Break Laws 2024: Meaning, Legal Practices, and More

Colorado Break Laws

Colorado, along with California, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, is regarded as one of the most employee-friendly states in the US when it comes to food and rest break regulations. Meal and rest breaks are not mandated by US federal law; states are free to enact their policies. Many states, such as Florida, have not taken significant action to provide more protection for employee rights. Colorado has far more lenient break laws than they do. Colorado business owners must be knowledgeable about the laws that govern them, their rights, and their obligations, to ensure compliance. To help you understand everything there is to know about Colorado break rules, we have put together this thorough yet easy-to-use reference.

What Is the Break Laws in Colorado?

Colorado labor rules mandate employers to offer paid rest and genuine meal breaks to their employees during the workday.

The Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order, commonly referred to as “COMPS Order #38,” governs both employers and employees. Minor employees are subject to the same regulations.

Following the regulations set forth by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, businesses are required to provide meal and rest breaks, maintain daily logs of all employee work hours, and give employees pay statements that reflect the total number of hours worked for the pay period.

“Time worked” encompasses all periods of rest and meal breaks, provided that the worker completes their meal breaks.

Employers are therefore advised to maintain thorough records of all work hours, including breaks.

They will be able to precisely calculate labor costs, guarantee compliance with all applicable laws, including the FLSA and Colorado labor laws, and maintain accurate records in the event of disputes or audits.

Companies and employees in Colorado stand to gain from a dependable time-tracking tool in some ways.

In addition to monitoring working hours and overtime, it facilitates precise and effortless tracking of breaks, guaranteeing that workers get enough sleep and that businesses comply with regulations.

Colorado’s Meal Breaks

Employers are required by Colorado lunch break legislation to give employees a 30-minute meal break if their shifts go longer than five hours straight.

Meal periods are unpaid as long as an employee gets an unbroken duty-free break. This means that during the 30-minute break, the employee must be released from all job-related responsibilities and cannot be made to wait for unforeseen work. These pauses are frequently called “bona fide meal breaks.”

Employers may nevertheless offer a fully compensated on-duty meal period if the nature of the work prevents workers from being released from their responsibilities during a lunch break.

During meal hours while on the job, Colorado employees are allowed to eat as much as they want without losing time or money. The 2018 Raven Corp., DLSS Case Hearing Officer Decision permits workers to leave the building during unpaid meal breaks. In contrast to California’s Breaks Law, Colorado does not impose stringent rules for meal breaks. The employer is obligated to compensate for any unpaid break time an employee misses or uses a non-compliant break.

Deduction of Meals

A clause in Colorado’s break legislation permits companies to give their staff meals and subtract the expense from their pay. However, stringent guidelines are in place to guarantee that this is carried out equitably and with the employee’s permission.

The requirements are broken down as follows:

  • Fair market value or a reasonable price for the meals. The employee’s minimal hourly wage may be reduced by the employer. This includes the cost of the lunch. Either what the employer fairly paid to furnish the meal or what the meal would cost in a fair market should be the basis for the calculation of costs (whichever is smaller).
  • The employer does not make any money. The dinner cannot be profitable for the employer. The amount paid to the employee for the lunch cannot exceed the amount the employer pays for it.
  • free will and unintimidated consent. The lunch must be willingly accepted and paid for by the employee. The employee cannot be made to accept and pay for the meal by the employer.

Rest Breaks in Colorado

Under state legislation, employees must take a 10-minute paid rest break every four hours or significant portions of it.

Employers who refuse to grant authorization for a paid 10-minute rest interval violate Colorado law. This means that they must pay workers 10 minutes’ compensation at their usual rate of pay or the legally mandated rate, whichever is higher. It may also lead to a company having to pay workers at the overtime rate of pay.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Employees in Colorado have a solid legal foundation to demand their full remuneration if you’re their employer and they’re not getting paid what they deserve. This generally also refers to missed or noncompliant breaks.

  • Workers can use the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics administrative procedure to file a complaint or pursue a civil action to recoup their earnings.
  • There is no minimum size requirement for a wage claim because the law states that no sum is too small to be recovered.
  • Within two years, anyone can accuse the Division in writing of violating the COMPS Order. But the period increases to three years if it is determined to be a deliberate infraction.

Failure to pay the Colorado minimum wage results in various penalties.

  • unpaid wages. observing the pay regulations. Employees in Colorado who are not given the appropriate meal breaks and rest periods are entitled to compensation for the time they should have spent on breaks. This covers the 30-minute meal break for shifts longer than five hours, as well as the 10-minute rest breaks every four hours of work.
  • Penalties. Employers who break the meal and rest break requirements may also be subject to penalties from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). The severity of the infraction and the number of impacted employees determine the fine.
  • Legal actions. If their employers do not provide adequate food and rest breaks, employees may potentially bring legal action against them. Should they prevail, they could receive compensation for lost earnings, psychological suffering, and further damages.

    You can prevent these problems and make sure that your workers are paid properly by keeping up to date on the Colorado Wage Act and the COMPS Order requirements. This will help you keep your employees and the law happy.

Colorado Break Laws Legal Practice

There are a few significant court cases that employers need to be aware of.

  1. A class action lawsuit, GARITANO v. CHICK-FIL-A, INC., is filed against Chick-fil-A, alleging that the firm failed to provide sufficient meal and rest breaks to its hourly workers, in violation of Colorado labor regulations. According to the lawsuit, employees should have received payment for their 10-minute breaks at their regular rate or, based on the number of hours worked, at their overtime rate, but Chick-fil-A failed to pay them.
  2. Moreover, the claim states that workers either skipped their lunch breaks or had unlawful wage deductions made for legally inadmissible breaks. Employees are entitled to overtime compensation for each infraction.
  3. The complaint argues that Chick-fil-A had no legal justification for these claimed actions and aims to represent all hourly workers in Colorado who are impacted by the statute of limitations. Some Chick-fil-A calculations indicate that the amount in dispute might be more than $5 million.
  4. Not too long ago, a nurse filed a lawsuit against a Colorado rehabilitation facility, alleging that it automatically withheld 30-minute meal breaks from the pay of herself and her coworkers, even though these breaks were frequently cut short to attend to patients.

Colorado Break Laws: FAQs

Are 15-minute breaks mandated under Colorado law?

Every four hours, the employer is required to provide a paid 10-minute break. If the employer chooses to prolong the break period, it must be a paid 15-minute break. The employer may extend the break duration to 15 minutes.

In Colorado, how many breaks are included in an eight-hour workday?

You are not entitled to any break periods if you work two hours or less. You are entitled to one rest interval if you labor for more than two hours, but not more than six. if you work more than six hours, but not more than 10, you are entitled to two rest breaks.

What is Colorado’s hourly wage?

The state minimum wage in Colorado is $14.42 as of 2023.

In Colorado, what is the minimum wage?

Colorado has updated its minimum wage as of January 1, 2024, in the United States of America. The following is an increase in the minimum wage: for all employees, excluding tippers, from $13.65 to $14.42 per hour; and. From $10.72 to $11.40 per hour for workers who get tips.

Colorado Break Laws: Conclusion

An employee break policy is crucial for protecting employees and the company, as it ensures compliance with labor laws and company culture. For example, in Colorado, following meal break laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act is non-negotiable. The policy should accommodate nursing mothers, providing reasonable break times and a private space for them. An effective break policy respects team members’ well-being and should be included in the employee handbook. Encouraging employee education and training on proper breaks is essential. Combining this with a time-tracking tool can lead to a productive and satisfied workforce.

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