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There are no wage and hour laws that limit the number of hours that a person 18 years of age or older can work either by the day, week, or number of days in a row, or that require breaks for adult employees. An employer is free to adjust the hours of its employees regardless of what the employees are scheduled to work. For example:
To avoid having to pay overtime for in a workweek that is Sunday through Saturday, an employer could adjust the hours of an employee who has already worked 34 hours by the end of a Thursday by requiring that the employee work only 6 hours on Friday (and not work on Saturday at all) regardless if the schedule had called for this employee to work 8 hours on Friday and Saturday. Also, this may be done regardless if the employee agreed to this or not. An employer can make the scheduling or rescheduling of its employees hours worked as a condition of employment.
There are no limitations on how many hours an adult employee can be required to work, regardless if they are a salaried-exempt or a non-exempt employee. The decision to work employees in 8-hour shifts, 12-hour shifts, 16-hour shifts, etc. is entirely up to the employer. The decision to call an employee back in to work on a scheduled day off is entirely up to the employer.
An employer can make the working on a scheduled day off or working a full shift as a condition of employment, regardless of an employee's start-time or end-time. An employer can make the working of overtime hours as a condition of employment, and can terminate an employee for refusing to work overtime, regardless of how many hours the employee has already worked that day or workweek. The employer does not have give its employees any advanced notice of having to work extra hours. An employer can come up at the last minute to inform its employees that they have to work overtime. The employer does not have to consider how the working of the extra time will affect an employee's personal life, except in unusual cases (such as requests for religious accommodations or disability accommodations).
For adult employees, only a handful of states require rest periods, although nearly half the states require meal periods (see our summary chart in the Breaks/Meals topic). In the absence of state law, it is entirely up to an employer to give or not give rest breaks and/or meal breaks to some or all of its employees.
An employer is not required to pay a minimum number of hours to its non-exempt employees, including if they are called back in, except in the few states with reporting time pay laws (see our guide on reporting time pay for state laws). In the absence of state laws, an employer only has to pay its non-exempt employees for the actual hours worked regardless of how long or how few the time is. However, an employer does have to pay employees for the time they have to wait in the establishment to see if they are needed. For example:
The only variation to this is if an employer has made a promise to pay its employees a certain minimum amount of time if an hourly employee or non-exempt salary employee is called in as a wage payment agreement.
It is entirely up to an employer to come up with its own criteria as to how many hours an employee works a day or week or any other factors that make an employee part-time vs. full-time. However, if wages or wage benefits are involved, the employer must clearly spell out in writing (policy, handbook, etc.) as to what it takes to be a full-time employee vs. a part-time employee. This is especially important if an employer's part-time employees do not earn wage benefits such as vacation pay (including PTO), sick leave, and holiday pay, while its full-time employees can earn wage benefits.
It is legal for an employer to switch an employee from full-time to part-time even without the employee's knowledge, as long as the employee does not end up losing wages, including wage benefits, that have already been earned at the time of the change-over.