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The Break Period Policy for Employees in South Dakota


A policy may have a positive or negative impact on the people. They are usually developed to guide how a system should function. For example, in South Dakota, one of the policies that affect people is the employee’s break period. It proposes that employees have 15 minutes break after every four hours (South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources, 2018). However, the policy makes workers vulnerable to exploitation because it gives the employers the power to choose whether to allow breaks or not. Due to its impact on workers, there is a need to make the policy mandatory and increase the time from 15 to 30 minutes after every four hours. Therefore, the policy is prime for change because it takes away the right of human beings to rest and leisure.

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The Break Period Policy for Workers

The break period for employees is a policy that affects the people of South Dakota, especially the workers. The policy requires employees to take a 15-minute break after four hours of working (South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources, 2018). However, the break is not guaranteed because employees are less likely to go when there is a lot of work. Supervisors also have the authority to deny workers a break. Employees must not be absent from their workstations for more than the authorized period because it is considered time worked. As stated in this policy, employees need to be accessible during the provided break to meet the employer’s demands (South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources, 2018). Work, work intervals, and break times are scheduled at the discretion of management.

I chose this policy due to its adverse impact on the workers in South Dakota. According to Dobrigkeit et al. (2018), the longer the periods working without a break, the greater the amount of exhaustion that an employee is likely to feel. That is, the restorative effects of a break will be most obvious for those who are exhausted in the workplace. As a result, I believe that the breaks will lead to an increase in employee performance regardless of the workload. Breaks play an integral role in an individual’s social and physical health and should be a top priority for relevant stakeholders.

Is The Policy a Social Policy or a Social Policy Issue?

The break period is considered a social policy because it aims to improve the well-being of workers. A social policy majors on how societies across the globe provide people’s basic requirements for security, health, and well-being (Drake, 2018). Based on this, South Dakota’s policy is concerned with how employers can create a conducive working environment (South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources, 2018). The policy addresses the issue of rest by showing employers that workers should be given in the workplace. It also talks about the issues that affect the employees in the workplace. As human beings, employees deserve to rest after performing an extensive task, especially those in labor-intensive areas.

Policy History, Development, Political Perspectives

The policy was established by the State of South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources in 2018 to address pertinent labor issues in the state. It was developed due to the absence of labor laws addressing the issue of workers’ breaks for meals and rest in the workplace (Hanvey, 2018). The situation exposed the workers to exploitation, especially by inhumane employers. To salvage the situation, the Bureau of Human Resources in the state introduced the policy. As an agency, they stated that the state has the right to change or eliminate the policy without notice. Therefore, the policy can be applied as long as the state is still silent on the matter.

There is a lack of political will in developing labor policies in the state. The 50 representatives in the US are responsible for considering matters brought by governors and their members in creating legislation that becomes law (Grant, 2019). They are supposed to identify issues that people go through and enact laws addressing them. However, the absence of the law to provide workers in the state with reasonable rest time shows a lack of interest from politicians, starting from the governor to representatives. It appears that the politicians do not understand the weight of the problem. As a result, politicians have failed the people of South Dakota in developing laws that protect workers from unfavorable working conditions.

The Impact of the Policy On the People of South Dakota

The policy operates against workers in South Dakota because their rest time is not guaranteed. Employers have taken advantage of this policy to deny employees rest time to increase productivity. The employees are at the mercy of their employers, who have the power to determine whether they go to break or not (South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources, 2018). This means that employers in South Dakota can choose to prevent their employees from resting, especially if they want to increase their productivity. For instance, if a task should be completed urgently, employees can be forced to work continuously, even against their will. Based on this, the policy gives the employers absolute power over the employees to take breaks.

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Long working hours are associated with high-stress levels, which affects their health. According to Dobrigkeit et al. (2018), fatigue to be one of the first side effects of working long hours. It appears intuitively evident that working long hours will exhaust or tiredness a person. Tiredness can be examined in two ways: directly as an end in itself or indirectly in terms of performance or health impacts assumed to be connected with fatigue. Fatigue limits employees from performing their roles both in and outside the organization. For example, after working for long hours, an employee would not have the energy to perform tasks at their homes. Therefore, lack of rest impacts individual productivity both at work and home.

Human Rights and Economic Justice

The policy does not promote human rights because it takes away an employee’s right to rest and vacation. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights articulates the inverse of the right to work, which is the right not to be overworked (Gilabert, 2019). It establishes the right to set work hours and paid holidays. Based on this, every human being has the right to rest in any working environment. The break periods for employees at South Dakota do not respect the right to rest, which should be given to every worker for the virtue of being a human being. The policy replaces employees’ right to rest with work and the will of the employers. As a result, the policy undermines the inherent human right as opined in the Universal Declaration of human rights.

The policy of break periods for employees does not advance economic justice. Social justice and welfare economics are linked with economic justice. It is a series of moral principles for establishing economic systems to give everyone enough resources to live a decent life (Konow, 2017). The policy creates an unfavorable working environment where employees can be subjected to long working hours without rest to meet the goals of an organization. With this policy, an organization may unethically use its workers to achieve its objectives. The employees may have little to no benefit from achieving organizational goals.

A Piece of the Policy That Is Positive

The policy recognizes that workers should be allowed to have a break after working constantly. Although it gives employers the power to allow or deny workers the break, it is a step in the right direction (South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources, 2018). It is important to take a break and get away from a stressful environment. This might provide a physical as well as a mental break after a stressful session. To connect with emotions, ideas, and body, some breathing exercises or mindful meditation may benefit workers. They can take a time-out by putting down the phone, closing the laptop, and sitting outside for a few minutes. Therefore, the policy informs the employers of the importance of allowing the workers to rest in between work.

The Way the Policy Should Be Changed

There are various features that should be added to the policy. First, the 15 minutes break after every four hours should be changed to 30 minutes. In the US, the average hours that a worker should work every day is 8 hours. Based on this, the current policy gives a worker at South Dakota a total of 30 minutes of rest (South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources, 2018). However, with the proposed changes to the policy, a worker will have a minimum of 1 hour of rest. This will enable a worker to take lunch and perform other activities that are unrelated to work. For example, a worker will be able to call the family to find out how they are faring as well as solve some issues that would affect their productivity. Thus, the proposed change would ensure that South Dakota workers have ample rest during work.

The second change would involve making the policy mandatory for all employers in the state. The main problem with the current policy is being optional. It gives employers all the powers to choose whether to give workers the provided rest time of 15 minutes after every four hours (South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources, 2018). Based on this, workers are prone to suffer from employers who choose to increase the performance of an organization instead of the welfare of workers. This means that making the policy involuntary will benefit workers in South Dakota. With the change, workers will have unconditional rest and leisure time in the workplace. It will help create a safe and healthy working environment for the workers in this state.

On the other hand, some employers may not be happy with the changes to the policy because it might affect their control of the employees. Employers often prefer situations where they control the workers in the workplace for their gain (Erickson, 2017). Time is an important aspect of the performance of an organization and the attainment of the anticipated goals. This means that adding more time for workers may have an adverse impact on the organization’s performance. In addition, making the policy mandatory is a reverse of the status quo where only the employers can decide when and duration of breaks in the workplace. Thus, although workers may welcome the changes, there is a possibility of resistance from employers who still want to exercise control over the breaks.

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Steps Involved to Change the Policy

The first step is identifying the need for the change to the policy. It represents the reason why the change is necessary. In this case, the change seeks to make the breaks in the workplace mandatory and increase the timeline from 15 minutes to 30 minutes after every four hours. The current structure of the policy denies the workers the right to rest as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the current policy, employers in South Dakota have the right to deny workers rest. This makes the workers vulnerable to exploitation and creates an unconducive working environment. Based on this, increasing the time and making the breaks mandatory is likely to save workers from fatigue that affects their physical and social health. Thus, the disadvantages of the current policy and the benefits of the changes present the need for the change.

The second step is to identify the people who will take the lead responsibility in changing the policy. Policy change requires an individual with skills who can reach out to relevant authorities to propel the change (Evans, 2017). Social workers and human rights activists are always effective at pushing for processes that protect people’s rights. From the point of view of social welfare policy, social workers and human rights activists assist in developing policies. Giving a social worker the mandate to spearhead the change of this policy is a good strategy.

The third step is to gather information and draft the policy. Collecting information on the legality of the change, examples, and where to go for guidance is necessary for the success of the change process. The knowledge of legal aspects that could be involved in the process is important to avoid lawsuits from people who could resist the change, such as employers (Evans, 2017). It is also important to learn from similar processes and where to seek guidance. In this case, a labor attorney in South Dakota could help understand crucial aspects of the process. After collecting information, the next step is to draft the policy. Get some help in making sure that the wording and length of the policy are appropriate to those expected to implement.


The break period for employees’ policy should be changed due to its adverse impact on workers in South Dakota. It suggests that employees take a 15-minute break every four hours. However, the regulation exposes workers to abuse because it provides employers with the authority to decide whether or not to allow breaks. Because of the impact on workers, the policy should be made mandatory, and the duration between breaks increased from 15 to 30 minutes every four hours. Therefore, there is a need to involve relevant stakeholders and change the policy.


Dobrigkeit, F., de Paula, D., & Uflacker, M. (2018). Breaks with a purpose. In Design Thinking Research (pp. 59-76). Springer, Cham. Web.

Drake, R. F. (2018). The principles of social policy. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Erickson, B. H. (2017). Good networks and good jobs: The value of social capital to employers and employees. In Social capital (pp. 127-158). Routledge.

Evans, M. (Ed.). (2017). Policy transfer in global perspective. Taylor & Francis.

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Grant, A. (2019). The American political process (6th ed.). Routledge.

Gilabert, P. (2019). Human dignity and human rights. Oxford University Press, USA.

Hanvey, C. (2018). Meal and Rest Breaks. In Wage and Hour Law (pp. 121-132). Springer, Cham. Web.

Konow, J. (2017). Does studying ethics affect moral views? An application to economic justice. Journal of Economic Methodology, 24(2), 190-203. Web.

South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources. (2018). Policies – South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources (SD BHR). South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources. Web.

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