Meet Our Experts
What are FLSA break requirements?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to provide meal or rest breaks to employees. However, many state laws do. 21 out of 50 states mandate meal breaks for employees, nine of which mandate both meal and rest breaks.
Should your employees clock out for lunch?
Thirty-nine percent of employees admit to eating lunch at their desk more often than not, while another 28 percent admit to rarely taking breaks of any type (even in states where breaks are mandated). Forcing your employees to clock out for a lunch break each day, knowing that a percentage of them are still working, makes you guilty of committing our FLSA Deadly Sin #4: Not Tracking Breaks or Lunch Breaks Properly.
Working through lunch is one of the most common types of off-the-clock work violations. And the consequences for not paying your employees for that time worked can be incredibly costly — and in more ways than one. Not only do you run the risk of getting hit with a wage and hour lawsuit, but when your employees don’t take breaks, you also run the risk of squelching their creativity and suppressing innovation. Both risks can come back to bite you in your bottom line.
What are some common problems employers have when it comes to tracking breaks and lunches?
The most common violation occurs when employers automatically deduct a rest or meal break from an employee’s time card – even though that employee may have worked through the break (or was called back to work by the employer during the break). If this happens frequently, it could add up to significant backpay.
What are some common strategies employers use to remain compliant when it comes to breaks and lunches?
Employers should require their employees to accurately track rest and meal breaks using a time tracking system. If the lunch break is automatically deducted from an employee’s time card, that employee should have the option to edit their time card to reflect the correct amount of time worked.
What are the common misconceptions employers have about breaks and lunches?
The FLSA does not mandate that breaks be provided (yet), but many state laws do. Check with your employment counsel to determine whether or not your employees are required to take a break – and make sure your employees understand when and how breaks are expected to be taken.
What are the consequences of not tracking breaks or lunch breaks properly?
- The FLSA does not mandate that breaks be provided, but states laws might
- It’s not uncommon for an employee to work through their break, or get called back into work during their break by a supervisor
- If a break is automatically deducted from an employee’s time card, that employee must have a way to edit that time card to reflect time actually worked/not worked
- Employers should require employees to use a time tracking software to accurately track breaks and lunches
Meet The Experts
Staci Ketay Rotman
Staci Ketay Rotman is the Community Investment Officer and Co-Chair of the Wage and Hour Practice Team at Franczek Radelet Attorneys and Counselors. She's the editor and co-author of the firm's wage and hour blog (wagehourinsights.com) and she has also co-authored a number of articles on wage and hour topics. Staci advises and represents employers in all aspects of labor and employment law.
Michael S. Kun
Michael S. Kun is a Member of Epstein Becker Green in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm's Los Angeles office. He is also the national Chairperson of the firm's Wage and Hour practice group. Kun speaks before professional and business groups on a variety of employment-related topics, and his is the co-editor of the wage and hour defense blog (wagehourblog.com). Additionally, Kun is one of the creators of the Wage & Hour Guide for Employers app, which provides employers with easy access to federal and state wage and hour laws.
Jonathan M. Young
Jonathan M. Young focuses his practice on labor and employment matters, including wage and hour claims, class action benefit claims, class action contract and tort cases, state Attorney General investigations, commercial litigation, Department of Labor investigations and banking settlements.