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Old 05-29-2011, 05:17 PM
 
Location: Western NY
145 posts, read 379,535 times
Reputation: 102

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Just wanted to see what you folks think about a friend of mines situation and if it's legal or not....they currently work in a job where they are the only person on shift at a given time. They do have a bathroom in the back room so that is not an issue. Where the problem lies is the boss says there are no Pre set breaks or lunch breaks. Basically when my friend has a free moment they can relax at will for a " break " and the same rule applies for a "lunch break ", the only catch is if a customer comes in and needs something they have to help them....

To me this is NOT a break or lunch break and I don't think it's legal to do this, hence me asking I was always under the impression that an employee is entitled to an uninterrupted lunch break but 15 min breaks are actual up to the employer and do not have to be given.
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:23 PM
 
4,805 posts, read 20,226,340 times
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Yes it is legal. Do a google search and go to the DOL website which reiterates over and over: there is no law requiring a meal break. It is one of their most frequently asked questions. Oftentimes we have the impression that there is a law, because there is for minors and many of us started working when we were teens. But the law does not extend to adulthood.

There are a few minor exceptions, like if you are a pilot or bus driver. And some states have laws but not very many.
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:25 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
29,750 posts, read 54,390,602 times
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Depending on the state, the Labor and Industries or Occupational Safety
people will have such laws. federal law does not require a lunch break, or any other breaks, paid or otherwise, but does require overtime pay for over 40 hours in a week.

If your friend is on the job 8 hours start to finish with no breaks his employer is in compliance with federal law, so check the state which may require (like here) two paid breaks of at least 10 minutes and at least 1/2 hour lunch paid or unpaid at the employer's discretion. When working alone at a business that is open, there is flexibility in most state laws to "split" the breaks if interrupted by a customer.
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:26 PM
 
Location: Western NY
145 posts, read 379,535 times
Reputation: 102
Even working an 8 hour shift? I should have specified the shift length and such.
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:31 PM
 
Location: SF Bay Area
531 posts, read 1,000,593 times
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Depends on the STATE.
Some states required 30 mins break after working certain hours and 15 mins every xx hours
However, you don't have to have a pre-set lunch break though as long as you take break according to xx hours
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:37 PM
 
Location: Western NY
145 posts, read 379,535 times
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Sorry mrsbunny , what I meant by Pre set was punch out at some point and then punch back in. Basically so they can have 30 mins to themselves and do whatever they wish and not have to be interrupted.
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:40 PM
 
4,805 posts, read 20,226,340 times
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Quote:
Even working an 8 hour shift? I should have specified the shift length and such.
There is no federal law requiring a break, period. Regardless of length of shift or number of hours worked per week. No break required. Is that clear enough?

Your profile states you are in NY State. If your friend is also in NY State:

ection 162 of the New York State Labor Law provides as follows:

Time allowed for meals
Every person employed in or in connection with a factory shall be allowed at least sixty minutes for the noonday meal.

Every person employed in or in connection with a mercantile or other establishment or occupation coming under the provisions of this chapter shall be allowed at least thirty minutes for the noonday meal, except as in this chapter otherwise provided. The noon day meal period is recognized as extending from eleven o'clock in the morning to two o'clock in the afternoon. An employee who works a shift of more than six hours which extends over the noonday meal period is entitled to at least thirty minutes off within that period for the meal period.

Every person employed for a period or shift starting before eleven o'clock in the morning and continuing later than seven o'clock in the evening shall be allowed an additional meal period of at least twenty minutes between five and seven o'clock in the evening.

Every person employed for a period or shift of more than six hours starting between the hours of one o'clock in the afternoon and six o'clock in the morning, shall be allowed at least sixty minutes for a meal period when employed in or in connection with a factory, and forty-five minutes for a meal period when employed in or in connection with a mercantile or other establishment or occupation coming under the provision of this chapter, at a time midway between the beginning and end of such employment.

The commissioner may permit a shorter time to be fixed for meal periods than hereinbefore provided. The permit therefore shall be in writing and shall be kept conspicuously posted in the main entrance of the establishment. Such permit may be revoked at any time.

In administering this statute, the Department applies the following interpretations and guidelines:

Employee Coverage. Section 162 applies to every "person" in any establishment or occupation covered by the Labor Law. Accordingly, all categories of workers are covered, including white collar management staff.

Shorter Meal Periods. The Department will permit a shorter meal period of not less than 30 minutes as a matter of course, without application by the employer, so long as there is no indication of hardship to employees. A meal period of not less than 20 minutes will be permitted only in special or unusual cases after investigation and issuance of a special permit.

One Employee Shift. In some instances where only one person is on duty or is the only one in a specific occupation, it is customary for the employee to eat on the job without being relieved. The Department of Labor will accept these special situations as compliance with Section 162 where the employee voluntarily consents to the arrangements. However, an uninterrupted meal period must be afforded to every employee who requests this from an employer.

Not all possible meal period questions can be anticipated and, therefore, these "Guidelines" may not cover all situations that might arise. For additional information or assistance, contact the nearest office of the Division of Labor Standards.


From your description it sounds like your friend falls under the 'one employee shift' criteria but I can't tell for certain since you don't provide those details.. Keep in mind, the employer may simply decide to shorten your friend's shift to eliminate mealtimes, if your friend submits the request.
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:44 PM
 
Location: Western NY
145 posts, read 379,535 times
Reputation: 102
Wow. Thanks for posting that. It def seems like the laws are not on the workers side at all...
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Old 05-29-2011, 08:06 PM
 
3,721 posts, read 3,917,788 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYChris View Post
Wow. Thanks for posting that. It def seems like the laws are not on the workers side at all...
Of course they aren't. But of course if employees had the upper hand the employers would be making a big stink about it.
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Old 05-29-2011, 08:49 PM
 
Location: Lafayette, La
2,034 posts, read 4,554,066 times
Reputation: 1419
I deal with this too. I work 12 hour night shifts and I can leave to get food but I dont actually have an official break time to do it. Some nights it gets so busy with phones ringing literally all 12 hours, and I either dont have time to get anything or I dont have time to eat what I bought. I guess thats just how it goes though.
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