According to federal law, meal breaks do not need to be given to employees. However, this is where state law comes into play. Many states by law enforce that employees take some kind of meal break.
According to federal laws, a non-exempt employee must be paid for very hour that is worked. However, when it comes to meal breaks, this can become tricky. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an unpaid meal break consists of both A) the break must be at least 30 consecutive minutes with no interruptions and B) the employee must not be required to do any work whatsoever during this time period.
In the situation where employees are given breaks of 20 minutes or less, according to federal law, employees must be paid for this time. Federal law states that 20 minutes or less is not an official meal break.
What if an employee sits through a presentation and is provided lunch? In this case, employees are required to be paid unless all four of the following are held true: A) appearing is voluntary; B) the employee does not executive any constructive work during the presentation; C) the presentation is outside of regular working hours for the employee; D) the presentation is not pertinent to the job of the employee.
What about those renegade lunch break employees? They are more widespread than many think. If an employee takes a long lunch break without getting permission, he or she must still be paid their entire salary. However, the company is in their right to punish this employee for this indiscretion.
As mentioned above, there is no federal law that states a lunch break needs to be given. However, states have different laws concerning lunch breaks, including situations involving long work hours. Although the exact number of hours may differ between states, if an employee works extended hours, a second meal break could be in the cards for that employee pursuant to state law.
When it comes to the subject of overtime, what happens when an employee misses meal breaks? For each meal break that an employee misses in a 40 hours week, this employee would be entitled to a half hour of overtime pay during that pay period.
If you have questions about meal breaks for financial purposes or have any other needs, we here at Lescault and Walderman are here to help. Contact us at 866-496-2042 today.