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Meal break lawsuits are trending upwards. While federal wage and hour law does not mandate employers to provide meal and rest breaks, a number of states do. This makes compliance especially challenging for employers operating in multiple states.

It’s virtually impossible to have a single meal break policy. While many states mandate ‘bona fide meal periods,’ during which employees are relieved from duty for 30 minutes or more, others have different requirements.

When it comes to meals breaks, employers are most likely to get into trouble for:

Missed or shortened meal breaks – Whether break time is paid or not, mandated breaks must be taken as required and in full.

Late meal breaks – Some states require that meal breaks occur at specific intervals. Employees missing the break ‘window’ are in violation.

Inaccurate automatic deductions – Some employers build automatic meal break deductions into their time tracking systems to ensure they’re properly documented. But if actual break times differ and the records aren’t reconciled before payroll is processed, it’s a problem.


Best Practices for Complying with Meal Break Requirements

  • Know the laws in all states where you operate, and maintain compliance through continual enforcement and monitoring.
  • Communicate meal break policies clearly to managers and employees. Education is key.
  • Implement procedures that require employees to punch in and out for every meal break.
  • Make sure your time and attendance system not only tracks meal break punches but:

✔Automatically flags the system when breaches occur.

✔Can send real-time alerts to managers, via text or email, when meal breaks aren’t taken on schedule.

✔Can flag punch-outs when workers haven’t complied.

✔Can calculate multi-shift rules, allowing for multiple meal break deductions when employees work extended or multiple shifts.

  • Also, make sure your time and attendance system generates real-time meal break reports; and monitor them. These reports should be able to pinpoint employees, managers, and/or worksites that are out of sync, allowing for corrective action. In addition, they can help you dispute potential claims by proving your compliance.
  • Consider other data collection methods such as IVR (telephone) or mobile punch. These options can help save travel time and wait time when punching in/out.

EPAY’s flexible time and attendance system provides safeguards to ensure meal and break compliance, helping employers with distributed workforces reduce their risk of wage and hour lawsuits. Are you interested in learning more about how EPAY can help you ensure compliance with meal break laws while cutting your labor costs by 5% or more? Set up a live demonstration, today!