I’ve noticed that an awful lot of companies and HR departments don’t really know the laws regarding various aspects of labor, such as lunch breaks.
It seems like each company has a different policy regarding lunch breaks – and every single company claims that they’re following the law to the letter.
I have been told
[li]If you work more than 5.5 hours in a shift, you must take lunch.[/li][li]If you work more than 6 hours in a shift, you must take lunch.[/li][li]You absolutely MUST take the full 30 minutes, no matter what.[/li][li]A minute or two either way doesn’t matter.[/li][li]We prefer that you take exactly 30, but we’ll let you by with 5 minutes either way.[/li][li]You can take as little as 20 minutes if you really want to.[/li][/ul]
All of the above has been in the same jurisdiction. It’s fairly obvious that somebody has an incorrect understanding of the law.
I’ve gone through the same thing where I work. I had done 6 hours and the manager wanted me to do another 15 minutes roughly. But to do that I would have had to clock out for 30 minutes to eat a lunch I didn’t have and then clock back in to finish the task. Rather than piss around 30 minutes of my life I couldn’t get back (lunch is unpaid of course), I clocked out, did what needed done and then just left.
And a lot of companies wish labor laws were as simple as you believe they are. The fact is that labor laws are a complicated and contradictory mess of rulings, regulations and court cases stretching back decades. You can bet every one of those companies had a lawyer look through the relevant information (which may have changed during the time you were working) and are following the legal advice they received.
So what IS the law regarding breaks in your jurisdiction. In my state (Wisconsin) breaks aren’t required (for most workers). Therefore having that policy would be just fine. If your state requires and uninterrupted 20 minute break after 5 hours, all those rules would be in compliance.
Here’s what CO law has to say about it (though your city/county may have stricter laws.
So, if I wrote that (and I do write it where I work), if would say something like “If you work more than 5 hours, you must take a 30 minute break”
My guess is that some people, like you said, just don’t know the law. Probably don’t even realize there’s a law about breaks to begin with. Remember, most small companies (like mine) don’t have an HR department. I chuckle a bit whenever someone gripes about something on the Dope and everyone yells ‘bring it to HR’/‘write it down, file a complaint’. That’s great if you work for a big company, but if there’s 9 people, it doesn’t always work like that.
However, CO law also states “Every employer shall authorize and permit rest periods, which, insofar as practicable, shall be in the middle of each four (4) hour work period. A compensated ten (10) minute rest period for each four (4) hours or major fractions thereof shall be permitted for all employees.”
So if someone works 8 hours, ISTM they have to work 2 hours, take a 10 minute break, 2 hours, 30 minute lunch, 2 hours, 10 minute break, 2 hours, then leave for the day.
Also, one other thing, you clearly do, but I wish employees would know THEIR laws before tossing them in my face. Now, we give breaks, but I’ve had employees come marching at me telling me that they get one anyways because the law says they do. Yeah, no.
WI doesn’t do this, so I’m not that familiar with it, but I got it from here “Every employer shall authorize and permit rest periods, which, insofar as practicable, shall be in the middle of each four (4) hour work period. A compensated ten (10) minute rest period for each four (4) hours or major fractions thereof shall be permitted for all employees.”
That is, you’re required to take a 10 minute rest (what I called a break) during each 4 hour period.
I’d think they might say you have to for other reasons. If the break counts as being clocked out, then you’d get an extra 30 minutes time for not working, which would lead into overtime for hourly workers. In other words, a little legal fiction gets you to take your break.
That is, if the law permits allowing them to clock out for lunch. I don’t know if it does. If not, I’d think just pointing out that you’re working for no extra pay would be enough. If you continue working with no extra pay, what would the company care?
I used to work for a place that got sued and had to pay back wages for not giving people lunch breaks. Even after they lost in court, they tried to get me to work during my break - I refused. They even tried to guilt me and act as if I wasn’t a team player.
Anyhow, I think that if they are required to offer a break it is tantamount to requiring that they give them a break in practical terms. If anything ever happens, and someone claims that they were not allowed to take a break, and it goes to court, then you have a situation where the company would not have solid evidence that they did offer breaks if the time cards consistently showed that no breaks were taken.
A company can have a stricter policy than state law, right? So if state law says that an employer must offer employees a break (or even that that no break is required at all), I would think that a company can force it upon them.
Anywhere I’ve worked the company has been allowed to set policies like this. I think most of them use a conservative approach when setting policies; when it comes down to it, I think it is just hair splitting to say the company must offer a break or the company must require that a break be taken. The net result on policy implementation would be the same for any company that is risk averse.
That’s true. But you’re missing the point of my OP.
Every company I’ve known about claims that the law requires a certain thing – but what each company claims that the law requires contradicts what other companies claim that the law requires.
Take the first two points in my original list. A company that has the first point as policy invariably claims that you absolutely cannot work more than 5.5 hours without a lunch break – “It’s the law!!!” And yet a company that uses 6 hours as the criterion is equally adamant that they’re following the law.
I get your point I’m just seeing it from a little different perspective. From the company’s point of view, it is the law. In the real world, people tend to go on that old saying ,“It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove that matters.” And 5.5 versus six hours is a very small, almost immaterial time difference. The law probably says six, but some companies would end up going with 5.5 to make sure that they don’t run afoul of the law. I don’t see anything materially, or practically inconsistent in all this.
Is it possible that the law has changed over the years resulting in dated signage?
Either that or people made signs starting with “The law requires…”, but then, over the years, changed the sign WRT the break times but never the wording at the top.
Honestly, I’d probably guess that it’s just people making mistakes.
One other thing, when people make signs like this, they often look to the internet and just copy and paste. They could have grabbed them from some other jurisdiction (or probably some other state altogether). Not even bothering with the law, they were just looking for ideas on how to handle breaks and that’s what they came up with.