October 8, 1998 98-R-1197
FROM: Laura Jordan, Research Attorney
RE: Part-Time Employment; Meal Breaks
You asked (1) whether there is any statutory definition of part-time employment and (2) what the law is regarding meal breaks.
No state or federal law generally defines part-time employment, although for unemployment compensation purposes state law defines it as “any job normally requiring less than 35 hours of service each week” (CGS ∋ 31-236(b)).
The General Assembly considered legislation (sSB 274, attached) in 1998 to prohibit employers of 10 or more people from discriminating in payment of wages between (1) full-time and part-time employees and (2) permanent and contingent employees, except where wage rates vary because of differences in seniority. The bill defined part-time employment to mean regularly scheduled work of up to 32 hours per week or less than 64 hours over two weeks.
The bill originated in the Labor and Public Employees Committee, which favorably reported it to the Senate. The Senate referred it to the Judiciary Committee, which took no action on it.
State law requires employers to offer at least one 30-minute meal break to employees who work 7 ½ consecutive hours or more. The break must occur sometime after two hours and before 5 ½ hours.
The law exempts situations when: (1) compliance could harm public safety; (2) the employer has fewer than five employees on a shift; (3) the position may only be performed by one employee; and (4) the work is continuous such as chemical production or research experiments and employees must be able to respond to urgent conditions at all times and they are compensated for break and meal periods. The law does not apply to State Board of Education certified professionals who work in schools. Employers and employees can agree to establish meal periods that do not conform to the law.
The Labor Commissioner can impose a $150 penalty on employers who violate this law.