New Jersey Overtime and Meal & Rest Break Laws for Nurses

Under New Jersey Statutes Annotated sections 34.11-56a4 and 34.11-56a4.1, employers are required to provide overtime pay for workers who clock in excess of 40 hours in one work week. The workweek, as defined in the statute and federally, refers to seven consecutive days and traditionally begins on a Monday. Employers are within their legal rights to re-define the workweek to begin on a day other than Monday but the defined workweek must be consistent as the law will not permit an employer to constantly alter the workweek to avoid paying overtime. New Jersey overtime protection laws do not apply to nurses employed in a seasonal capacity limited to June-September; such as nurses working for summer camps or summer programs.

New Jersey has not enacted specific legislation with respect to meal and rest breaks for nurses. If a state code does not contain rules with respect to labor or employment issues, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and its provisions will provide gap-filling guidelines to employers and employees. The FLSA unfortunately does not require that an employer provide mandatory rest or meal breaks to employees regardless of the length of the shift. If an employer decides to provide rest breaks, typically less than 20 minutes, the breaks must be compensable.
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