Walmart Lunch Break Policy 2024 Updated

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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walmart break policy

As one of the largest global retailers, Walmart stores are busy almost every working hour, which explains why they have strict regulations regarding lunch breaks and break time in general. 

Walmart’s break policy provides specific guidelines for its employees based on the length of their shifts. Keep scrolling to learn about its policy to avoid unwanted penalties or disciplinary actions.

What Is Walmart’s Policy on Breaks?

For shifts lasting less than 6 hours, Walmart employees can have a 15-minute break (100% paid). Meanwhile, with longer shifts between 6 and 7 hours, the company mandates a 30-minute unpaid lunch break and two paid 15-minute breaks. 

And if your shift exceeds 7 hours, you will be granted a mandatory 1-hour unpaid lunch break, along with two 15-minute paid breaks, one in the first 4 hours and another in the latter half of your shift.

manual workers Lunch break

There is a bright side to the unpaid meal periods: you are 100% off the clock. That means you can do anything you want to make the most of your break, such as running errands, returning home, or handling personal matters outside Walmart’s premises. 

1. Is There Any Difference In Walmart Lunch Policy for Part-Time and Full-Time Employees? 

The difference between full-time and part-time employment at Walmart does not affect your lunch break schedule – since the meal policy is solely based on the duration of each shift rather than the total weekly or monthly working hours. 

Long story short, whether a full-time or part-time employee, you must still work at least 6 hours during one shift to qualify for a Walmart meal break. 

2. How About Walmart’s Lunch Break Policy for Minors (Under 18)?

For minor employees (those under 18) working at Walmart, there are some variations in the meal policy. 

Specifically, adult associates are required to have their unpaid meal breaks if their shift extends to 6 hours or more, while those underage have to take their lunch after only 5 hours. Minors must also make sure their break lasts at least 30 minutes to adhere to the company’s policy.

3. Is Your Lunch Break Paid By Walmart? 

No; according to Walmart’s policy, any break exceeding 15 minutes is “off the clock.” 

In simpler terms, all associates must clock out when taking their meal breaks, whether they are one full hour or only 30 minutes in length. On the other hand, rest breaks of 15 minutes or under are compensable and considered “on the clock”; as a result, they receive 100% coverage.

4. Can You Skip Your Lunch Break At Walmart?

Like many other popular corporations, Walmart has no choice but to enforce a strict meal policy due to state labor regulations, which mandate specific intervals for workers to receive breaks; non-compliance could lead to severe consequences for the company.

Therefore, even if you volunteer not to use your lunch breaks, Walmart will still face legal repercussions! 

Plus, no organization wants to pay hourly employees for overtime, and Walmart is no exception. That’s why it requires everyone to clock out during longer shifts, as it is the best way to monitor their total accrued labor during each payment period.

5. Is There A Policy for Overnight Shifts? 

Walmart allows its overnight workers to choose 3 hours of unpaid time as their rest periods. Let’s say your overnight shift spans from 12:00 PM to 8:45 AM; then, you can sleep three consecutive hours from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM (or 2:00 AM to 5:00 AM) without compensation. 

Better yet, your off-time doesn’t have to be slotted in the middle of the shift; scheduling it before or after your primary work hours is acceptable.

Can You Leave Walmart for Lunch During Lunch Break Time? 

Lunch Break

Whether or not you can leave the Walmart properties during your lunch period depends on the store’s meal break policy. Some stores allow their associates to do anything they want during their off-time, while others might be much stricter. If you are unsure, it is best to check with your manager.

Here are some things to keep in mind if your manager does allow you to leave the store:

  • Be sure to clock out before you leave the store.
  • Return to the store on time for your next shift.
  • Pay attention to your appearance; avoid wearing anything too casual or revealing.
  • Be respectful of other customers and employees.

Otherwise, do not risk it if your store bans anyone from leaving; doing so without permission might subject you to disciplinary action – up to and including termination! In most cases, there are two main reasons behind this strict policy: 

  • Security concerns: Walmart stores are known for their high customer volume; they must be staffed at all times to prevent theft and other security issues.
  • Customer service: The brand wants to ensure its customers always have someone around to reach out to. As such, employees leaving for lunch might create gaps in coverage.

But no worries; you can still make the most of your lunch break regardless. We suggest you bring your lunch to work and enjoy it in the break room – or order takeout from a nearby restaurant. Using your off time to run errands, relax, or recharge is also a great idea.

What Happens If You Get A Meal Exception At Walmart? 

A meal exception at Walmart means you did not take your lunch break on time for unwanted reasons, such as the store being understaffed or having to handle an unexpected customer service issue. 

If these issues were not reported to your manager beforehand, you might be subject to disciplinary action, such as a written warning or suspension. In severe cases, you could even be fired!

To avoid getting a meal exception at Walmart:

  • Make sure to clock out for your lunch break on time.
  • If you are running behind, let your manager know right away.
  • Is the store currently short-staffed? Ask for help from another associate or your supervisor. The same applies to unexpected customer service problems; just let your manager know that you will need to take your lunch break late.


How long a Walmart break lasts depends on your shift duration, and skipping it is not an option unless you want to be fired! If any unexpected issue arises that might delay your lunch break, remember to give a heads-up to your manager.

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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