Federal wage and hour law does not mandate that employees be given either paid or unpaid rest or meal periods. Whether breaks are required is left up to the states. In most circumstances, Massachusetts law requires unpaid meal breaks for employees required to work more than 6 consecutive hours and requires a day of rest in each consecutive 7-day period.
U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division regulations do specify when provided work breaks, including meal periods, rest periods, and sleeping time, must be counted as work time subject to federal minimum wage and overtime requirements (29 CFR 785.18 et seq.).
Domestic workers. Under the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, the working time of domestic workers must include sleep, rest, and meal breaks unless the worker is clearly off duty and able to use the time for purely personal activity, either on or off the premises. When an employee works 24 consecutive hours or more, all meal times, rest periods, and sleeping periods will be considered working hours. If both the employer and the employee agree, the employee may choose not to take an 8-hour sleep break during a 24-hour shift. Domestic workers are required to have 24 consecutive hours off for each 40 hours they work in a week and 48 consecutive hours off every month.