IMPORTANT QUESTIONS ANSWERED ABOUT MEAL PERIODS - PART I
Q: Receptionist receives a 30 minute meal period but the employer asks the receptions to eat lunch at his desk in case the phone rings or clients arrive. Do you have to pay the receptionist even if no one calls or comes in during that time?
A: Yes, as an employer, you would have to pay the receptionist for the full 30 minutes even if no client needs assistance. If you require employees to do work, whether active or inactive, while they are eating lunch, they aren’t completely relieved of duty and they must be paid. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards ACT FLSA), an unpaid meal period must generally be least 30 minutes without interruption and the employee must be FULLY relieved of all duties for the purpose of eating regular meals.
Q: An employee sits at his desk to eat his lunch during his 30 minute meal period. If his phone rings and she answers it, what is the employer’s obligations for paying the employee?
A: If the employee’s meal is interrupted as explained above, the employee should be paid for the full 30 minutes. It’s best practice to have the employee eat his lunch away from his work station so the employee can be fully relieved of all duties for the purpose of eating regular meals. Employees should also report interrupted lunch breaks so that they can be paid for the time.
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