OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

January 24, 1986

The Honorable Mark O. Hatfield
United States Senator
475 Cottage Street, N.E.
Salem, Oregon 97301

Dear Senator Hatfield:

This is in response to your letter of December 27, 1985, in which you request information on behalf of Mr. Roy Riehl on safety requirements applicable to lunch and rest breaks during an employee's workday.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has neither researched nor issued standards requiring that workers be permitted lunch and rest breaks in the course of their workday. This probably is due to the fact that such breaks are generally handled as labor-management negotiating issues and do not necessarily impact safety and health on many types of jobs.

Because of Mr. Riehl's connection with the trucking industry, however, there is a possibility that two transportation statutes may apply to his situation.

Regulations promulgated under the Motor Carrier Safety Act, administered by the Department of Transportation [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA], require that those employed in driving commercial vehicles involved in interstate commerce shall accumulate (1) no more than ten hours of driving time consecutively, (2) no more than fifteen hours of on-duty (on-the-job but not necessarily at the wheel) time following each eight hour off-duty period and, (3) no more than seventy hours of driving time within any eight day period.

[Correction 10/22/2004. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has revised the Hours-Of-Service (HOS) regulations. Please see the FMCSA web site for the current requirements.]

Violations of these rules by covered carriers (particularly if they pose a danger to worker safety or health) should be brought to the attention of the local office of the Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety. In instances where an employee believes he or she has been discriminated against for making safety or health complaints relating to motor vehicle operation or work hours, a complaint may be filed with the local OSHA Area Office (see the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, Section 405).

Depending on Mr. Riehl's present situation, he may wish to take advantage of one of these options.

With respect to research, it appears little has been done on stress levels connected with uninterrupted truck driving. Nonetheless, we did discover one study produced by the International Labor Office in Geneva, Switzerland (1979), entitled, "Hours of Work and Rest Periods in Road Transport." I have enclosed a copy for your review.

I hope this information will be useful to you and your constituent, Mr. Riehl.


Francis J. Frodyma, Acting Director
[Directorate of Evaluation and Analysis]

[Corrected 10/22/2004]

December 27, 1985

Mr. Thorne Auchter
Assistant Secretary of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
200 Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Mr. Auchter:

Enclosed is a letter from my constituent, Mr. Roy Riehl, which outlines his feelings about the fact that there are no requirements under the Federal wage and hour law, the Fair Labor Standards Act, for a meal break or rest periods during an employee's workday. You will also note that I have enclosed a copy of the response I received from Mr. Joe C. Garcia, Regional Administrator of the Employment Standards Administration which emphasizes this fact.

Although I am doubtful that federal legislation regarding this matter would be successful at this point, I would appreciate your providing me with any information you might have available which would indicate that this subject has been studied. Has it ever been approached from a safety standpoint, and what were the results? Any narrative or statistics you have would be helpful in my responding further to my constituent.

Please respond to my Salem office at 475 Cottage Street N.E., Salem, Oregon 97301.

Thank you for your kind attention to this inquiry.


Mark O. Hatfield
United States Senator
United States Senate
Washington, D.C.

December 2, 1985

Honorable Mark O. Hatfield
United States Senator
475 Cottage Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

Subject: Breaks Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

Dear Senator Hatfield:

This is in response to your letter dated November 18, 1985, addressed to Wilbur J. Olson, Assistant Regional Administrator for Wage and Hour. In that letter, you communicate the concern of your constituent Roy A. Riehl, about the absence of any requirement under the Federal wage and hour law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for a meal period or breaks during an employee's workday.

We recognize Mr. Riehl's concern. The points he raises have, among others, caused many States to regulate this aspect of employment. For this point to be addressed by the FLSA would require statutory changes. I know of no current legislative activity along these lines.

I regret that we can be of no assistance in this matter. If you have any further questions, please contact W. J. Olson, Assistant Regional Administrator, at:


U.S. Department of Labor/ESA
Wage and Hour Division
3032 Federal Office Building
909 First Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98174
Telephone No. (206) 442-1914 / FTS 399-1914


Joe C. Garcia
Regional Administrator

November 9, 1985

Mr. Naff,

I spoke with you on the phone a few months ago regarding the fact that businesses which are under federal jurisdiction are not obliged by law to allow their employees a lunch period. You advised me to write you a letter restating our conversation so that possibly something could be done to remedy the problem.

I drive a truck for a local sand and gravel company and for the past couple of weeks we've been putting in at least ten hour days of constant driving. This is with no lunch or rest break at all. This is a matter of safety, not to mention humane consideration to allow a person a change to slow down, stretch legs, eat and maybe have some coffee. Our dispatcher insists that eating and drinking can be done while driving. Mind you, these are thirteen speed manual shift transmissions we have which involve much of one's time and dexterity while in motion. This, coupled with the rough ride, results in more food and drink being worn than eaten.

This is only a brief outline of some of the reasons a person who drives might need to have a break and doesn't cover other professions such as those working with many types of machinery who's safety and well-being could be in jeopardy.

I would like to see it made law that businesses, under federal jurisdiction, be compelled to allow their employees a lunch period of at least one half hour if the employee desires one.

Any help you could be in introducing and establishing this proposal will be appreciated very much by me and I'm sure many others across the nation.

Could you please let me know what results from this?

Many Thanks,

Roy A. Riehl