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Payroll Laws: Do Employers Provide Enough Meals And Breaks?

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Are meals and breaks benefits or requirements when it comes to payroll solutions?

If you are like most employers, you graciously provide your employees with a period for lunch; even more, an extra break period to rest throughout the day (coffee, snacks). However, are you simply being generous or is this required by law?

The Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA) does not mandate an employer to provide employees with lunch or coffee breaks; however, should you choose to give your employees a lunch break you are required to pay employees whose break last between 5-20 minutes.

Should you allow your non-exempt employee to take a lunch break greater than 30 minutes please ensure they are not performing any type of work duties – covering the phones, answering questions, waiting on deliveries, checking work email etc.  

Otherwise, you are obligated to compensate them for their lunch break. As a precaution it is recommended to have your non-exempt employees step away from their work area and have a designated space for breaks.

According to NOLO, Employers do not have to pay for bona fide meal breaks, during which the employee is relieved of all duties for the purpose of eating a meal. An employee need not be allowed to leave the work site during a meal break, as long as the employee doesn’t have to do any work.

Ordinarily, a meal break is “bona fide” if it lasts for at least 30 minutes, although shorter breaks may also qualify, depending on the circumstances. However, although payroll laws in Oklahoma does not require employers to offer breaks in the first place, employers must pay employees for anytime spent working during that break period.

As an employer it makes perfect business sense to allow your employees’ meal and rest breaks, even if the federal or state law doesn’t make it a requirement in your state. Otherwise, how productive can an employee that is hungry and tired really be?  

It’s important to know your state laws. Although the state of Oklahoma does not require lunch and break periods; there are 40 other states that govern meal breaks, rest periods or both. For more information on the regulation of breaks and meal periods by state please visit: http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/meal.htm

LUXA Enterprises is a group specializing in payroll services and payroll law for small and mid-size businesses in the Tulsa and surrounding areas.  LUXA Enterprises provides help in payroll processing services for small businesses to increase each entity to grow from a trusted provider.

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Topics: Payroll