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How to set up Break Rules for unpaid/paid breaks
How to set up Break Rules for unpaid/paid breaks
Marc Rosenberg avatar
Written by Marc Rosenberg
Updated over a week ago

We understand that there are many rules and regulations regarding when employees need to clock out for a rest or lunch break. These requirements are often specific to the State or Country that your business operates in. Fortunately, the Justworks Hours Break Rules feature allows you to customize the types of breaks your employees take so that you are always compliant.

Setting up Break Rules in Justworks Hours is simple. By default, we automatically add two generic rules to your account: Rest Breaks and Lunch Breaks. We intentionally leave these rules set to "Inactive", so to use these out-of-the-box rules you'll need to go into your Break Rules preferences and activate them.

Note: If you do not activate either Break Rule, employees will still be able to take breaks. All breaks will be unpaid and no rules or preferences will be applied.


Starting September 6, 2022, employers will no longer be able to set a minimum break durations in Justworks Hours and there will no longer be return-from-break notifications for unpaid breaks.

Set up process: Break setup will no longer have a checkbox to enforce minimum break duration. Break length can still be set, but it’s presented as a suggestion without any enforcement. While a break rule is marked as unpaid, the option to prompt employees to return from break will be disabled, however, if the break rule is marked as paid, that option will be enabled.

For customers using the web app, breaks with durations will show the duration, but will omit any reference to “minimum length.” For example, “Lunch (min length: 30 min)” will now appear as “Lunch (30 min).” Employees can check in from a break at any time

For customers using the mobile app (versions 3.6.0 and up), return from break notifications will only be scheduled for paid breaks and breaks with durations will show the duration, but will omit any reference to “minimum length.” Employees will also be able to check-in from a break at any time.

How to activate Break Rules

To activate these pre-populated Break Rules, or to add custom Break Rules of you own choosing, navigate to the Preferences section of your dashboard. You can do this by clicking on the person icon in the top right corner and then selecting "Preferences" from the dropdown menu.

From the Preferences page, click the option for Break Rules in the left-side menu.

Once you're on the Break Rules page, you can select the default Break Rules that we've added to your account and then click the button in the action bar to "Activate" these rules. Please note, that by default the "Lunch" Break Rule is configured to be an Unpaid break (meaning when employees take this break they won't be paid for the time they are out). The "Rest" Break Rule is configured to be a Paid break, so if they use this break they will still be compensated for their time.

While these Break Rules are good options that should suit the needs of most businesses by no means do you have to enable them. You can easily add your own Break Rule by clicking the "Add New Break Rule" button.

When you add a new rule, you'll be asked to Name your rule, and then decide if this is a break you want to pay employees for or not. If you are unsure whether or not a break should be paid, please check your local labor law for compliance.

When adding or editing a Break Rule, there are also additional preferences you can use to further customize the break. First, you can decide if you want to set a Minimum Length for the break. The number of minutes you enter here represent the amount of time an employee should spend on this break.

You can take the Minimum Length preference one step further by selecting the checkbox next to: "Employee cannot end break earlier than length set above." When this is selected, employees will not be able to check back in from this break until the minimum length has passed. This is a good option if you operate in a State that requires employees to take breaks of specific durations during a given work shift.

There is also a preference that when selected will send a push notification reminder to the employees mobile phone 5 minutes before the minimum length is set to end. This is a helpful tool for reminding employees that their break should be ending soon and that they will need to clock back in for work.

Lastly, there is a preference you can set for each Break Rule that will trigger a reminder to take a break once their shift has reached a specific duration. This is helpful if you want employees to take a break after being clocked in for a certain amount of time. A common example here would be to have a Rest Break, with this preference turned on to remind employees to take the break after working for 4 hours.

Every Break Rule is assigned to all employees by default. You can also click the Employees tab in the Break Rules popup if you want to assign a particular Break Rule to certain employees, one individual or a Department.

Break Rules were developed to give you complete control over how frequently and for how long your employees take breaks. All break time is automatically calculated based on the rules you set which ensures that your timesheets are accurate and your business is compliant. The Break Rules you activate will automatically be shown to employees every time the click the "Start Break" button, whether they are using the mobile app or their web dashboard.

Do you have more questions about how to use our Break Rules feature? Feel free to reach out to our helpful Customer Experience team by emailing [email protected].

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