Pay for Lunch and Other Breaks - The Maryland Guide to Wage Payment and Employment Standards
Unless the worker is under 18 years old or is an employee who works in certain retail establishments, there is no law requiring an employer to provide breaks, including lunch breaks (see Breaks, Benefits and Days Off). An employer who chooses to provide a break, however, does not have to pay wages for lunch periods or other breaks in excess of 20 minutes where the employee is free to leave the worksite (or workstation if leaving the workplace is physically impractical), in fact takes their lunch or break (whether freely choosing to leave or remain at the worksite), and the employee does not actually perform work. If employees are told their pay will be reduced each day by one-half hour for lunch, and they are not free to take this lunch period without an expectation or reasonable understanding that they must work or be on hand to work, they must be paid for the time. A "reasonable understanding" that they must work or be on hand to work is a condition in which it is generally known, or the employee reasonably believes, that failure to perform work (or be available "on hand" to perform work) during their break, will result in some negative effect on employment.