As an employer, there are many rules you must follow regarding your employees. From fair pay to breaks during the workday, abiding by Oklahoma payroll laws is an important part of running a successful business. In this post, we will discuss some of the specific rules regarding meal breaks during the workday.
Are Meals & Breaks Simply Benefits or a Legal Requirement?
If you are like most employers, you graciously provide your employees with a meal break. Some employers even allow an extra break period to rest throughout the day, often 10-15 minutes for a quick snack or coffee. Are these breaks required by law or is it simply an act of generosity?
According to the Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA), an employer is not required to provide an employee with a lunch or coffee break. However, as an employer, you can decide to offer meal and snack breaks as a benefit of the position. There are a few things to keep in mind t if you choose to give your employees a break during the workday.
Paid Breaks vs. Unpaid Breaks
As an employer, you are required to pay employees during their break if the break lasts between 5-20 minutes. If your employee is allowed to take a break that is 30 minutes or more, you are not obligated to pay them.
Employers do not have to pay their employees during a bona fide meal break during which the employee is relieved of all duties. During this time, an employee need not be allowed to leave the worksite. It is only important that they are not required to do any work. In most cases, a meal break is considered “bona fide” if it lasts for at least 30 minutes. However, in some circumstances, shorter breaks may also qualify.
It is crucial that you ensure your employee will not have to perform any type of work duties such as covering the phones, answering questions, waiting on deliveries, or checking work emails during an unpaid break. If you expect your employees to perform these duties while on their break, you are obligated to compensate them for the time they spent on break.
Payroll laws in the state of Oklahoma do not require employers to offer breaks. However, employers must pay employees for any time spent working during a break period they are provided. To avoid any possibility of this happening, it is recommended that you provide your employees with a designated breakroom or area that is located away from the work area.
Should You Provide Breaks to Employees?
While it is not a requirement in the state of Oklahoma, you should provide your employees with breaks throughout the workday. Allowing your employees time to eat and relax in the middle of the workday creates a positive, productive working environment.
If your business is located outside of the state of Oklahoma, it is important to research your state payroll laws. While Oklahoma does not require breaks during the day, there are 40 states that require meal breaks, rest periods, or both. You can find more information on the regulation of breaks and meal periods by state here.
LUXA Enterprises is a group specializing in payroll services and payroll law for small to midsize businesses in 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.