Employees have a right under Washington law to take rest breaks and meal breaks. Non-agricultural and agricultural workers over 18 years old have different standards for rest breaks and meal periods.


Youth under 16 years old – must be paid at least 85% of the minimum wage.
Youth 16-17 years old – must be paid at least the current state minimum wage.

Rest Breaks

Minors must be allowed a paid rest break, free from duties.


Youth under 16 years old

  • Breaks must not be scheduled near the beginning of the work shift.
  • They must take a rest break of at least ten minutes for every two hours worked.
  • They cannot work more than two hours without a ten-minute rest break or a thirty-minute meal period.

Youth 16-17 years old

  • Employees can’t be required to work more than 3 hours without a rest break.
  • Breaks must be scheduled as close to the midpoint of a work period as possible.
  • Employers can require workers to stay on the job site during a rest break.
  • Rest breaks taken are considered “hours worked” when calculating paid sick leave and overtime.

Waivers and variances

Minors cannot waive their meal break requirement. Minors cannot waive rest break requirements.

Meal Breaks

Youth under 16 years old

  • Must not work more than four hours without being given an uninterrupted meal period that must be separate and distinct from, and in addition to, their rest breaks.
  • Must receive a paid rest break of at least 10 minutes for every 2 hours worked.
  • Must have a rest period after 2 hours for every 4 hours of work.

Youth 16-17 years old

  • Are entitled to an uninterrupted meal break of at least 30 minutes if they work more than 5 hours in a day.
  • Are entitled to at least a 10-minute paid rest break for each 4 hours worked.
  • Must be allowed a rest period no later than the end of the third hour of the shift.