Many employers are concerned about their exposure to missed meal or rest periods taken by employees. Last year the DOL issued an opinion letter which clarifies the effect on a company’s overtime obligations in cases where an employee misses a meal period or break through no fault of their own. Remember these principles:
- The employees must be paid for all the time they work, whether authorized or not. For example, if they miss a rest or meal period, the employer is required to pay for this time.
- If the missed rest or meal periods result in the employee working overtime hours, the employer is responsible for paying overtime.
- An employer may “credit” extra premium compensation paid for extra hours to its overtime obligation. Also, those payments are not considered a part of the employee’s regular grade of pay.
- When it comes to recording time, an employer is required to compute time to the nearest five minutes or nearest one-tenth or quarter of an hour, so long as this will not result, over a period of time, in failing to compensate the employee properly for the time they actually worked. This “de minis time” need not be paid for
Click here to read the opinion letter.
Note to California employers: In CA rest and meal periods are mandatory and can result in penalties and fines simply because an employee missed one. Employers must provide rest and meal periods by making them available, but need not ensure that they are taken. To learn more, click here and go to Section 45.