Q: Do employees in nonexempt positions have to take a meal break – even if they don’t want to?
Your regular daily schedule includes a 30-minute lunch period in the middle of each day. However, some employees prefer to eat while working so they can come in later or leave earlier. The supervisor has no problem with this.
Must you make your employees stop work and take a meal period?
A:No – with qualifications.
This is much more nuanced than it appears. An employer’s responsibility for providing meals and breaks was outlined in the California Supreme Court’s long-awaited 2012 ruling on the Brinker case. An employee who works at least 5 hours in a day must be given at least 30-minutes of uninterrupted time when they are free of duties and able to leave the premises. Although, the employer is not absolutely responsible for making sure they take it, best practice is still to have employees take required meal and rest breaks. Allowing employees to skip meal breaks may result in overtime and expensive wage and hour claims later.
Requirements for providing meal and rest periods can vary by industry, and following those requirements is critical for every employer. You can find requirements for your business by downloading the Wage Orders from http://www.dir.ca.gov. Those orders should be printed and posted with your other workplace posters each year.
Every employer wants to believe they’ve got a good team they can trust. And in most cases, they have.
Unfortunately, even good people sometimes stray from company expectations. Here are some of the issues we were asked to investigate.