Preventing Lawsuits: Can Your Employees Skip Lunch?

Common Employee Lawsuits > Working Through Lunch

In our last blog, we discussed some of the major factors that contribute to employers getting sued. While employers might want to do their employees a “favor” and let them work through lunch to get home to their families sooner, this is more damaging than beneficial. In fact, fair labor standards prohibit employers from doing this for a variety of reasons. As we explore these potential exposures, protect your operation with an Employment Practices Liability policy.

The issue.

The Society for Human Resource Management gives the following scenario: Suppose an employee gets a 30-minute unpaid lunch break. He asks if he can take 15 minutes instead on a regular basis so that he can be home as soon as possible after his kids return from school. Do you have to pay the employee for the 15-minute meal period even though you are accommodating his request for a shorter break?

Ordinarily, lunch breaks must be 30 minutes or more to be unpaid. This is not one of those exceptions that would qualify as a special circumstance. The presumption is against the employer and an issue for litigation.

The alternative.

Rather than set yourself up for a lawsuit, you can have your employee waive their right to a break if they want to work through their lunch. If they’d rather continue working and eat something while doing so, this is an option. However, this option is not eligible for states that deny the employee’s right to waive. Check with your state regulations on labor laws to keep your business out of hot water.

Another option is to prevent employees from clocking back in before the 30 minutes has elapsed. You can program this into your time clocking software to prevent overeager employees from not taking the required time for a meal period.

About FGIB

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