Adriana S.Kosovych, Associate in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in SHRM.org, in “3 Steps to Minimize Risks with Auto-Deducted Meal Breaks,” by Allen Smith.
Following is an excerpt:
Auto-deductions for nonexempt employees’ meal breaks can be less risky if employers take these three steps:
- Provide a method for workers to cancel auto-deductions if they work during meals.
- Reduce the chance that meal breaks will be interrupted.
- Train employees and supervisors about the auto-deduction policy.
The safest way for an employer to ensure that it satisfies its obligations to pay hourly employees for all time worked is to require nonexempt workers to clock in and out not only at the beginning and end of each shift or workday but also at the start and finish of each meal break, said Adriana Kosovych, an attorney with Epstein Becker Green in New York City. …
An employer that adopts an auto-deduction policy should reinforce it through training at the time of hire and annual mandatory training, according to Kosovych.
Inform employees that they:
- Are to be completely relieved from their duties during meal breaks.
- May not work voluntarily during meal breaks.
- May be subject to discipline for performing unauthorized work during a meal break. However, any employee who performs such work still must be paid for that time.
- An employer may require that employees eat their meals away from their work stations, she added.
Supervisors should receive separate training, Kosovych recommended. Supervisors must strive for employees to take their full, uninterrupted meal breaks, but also instruct those who work during meals that they must record that work time accurately so that they are paid for it.