Much Ado About Lunches and Breaks

Between tons of work, meetings, presentations, racing towards targets and performance, companies need to take a break and take a hard look on the way they handle employee’s lunch and break hours.  It’s simply because something that seems so trivial could cost company big money if it’s not being handle properly and according to the (labor) law. Bare in mind that not all breaks are created equal in one’s country or even one’s state. Hence, careful understanding on how to deal with lunch and break hours is crucial to tackle it right.

The most adventurous lunch break.

In Australia for example, an employee can’t work more than 5 hours without a meal break of between 30 minutes to 1 hour and the meal break is not compensable. But, this doesn’t apply to all workers. If he is a shift worker, all breaks and lunches are payable hours Down Under. And, when he works more than 10 hours, he’s entitled to two meal breaks. The law in the UK however, allows 10 minutes break if a staff has worked for more than 4 hours and 20 minutes break if he has worked more than 6 hours. But what if an employee has taken that 10 minutes break after 4 hours, would he be entitled for another 10 on the 6th hour?

According to the United States Department of Labor, breaks between 5 to 20 minutes are compensable while breaks that take more than 30 minutes are not. California Law however, states that an employee deserves a 30 minutes unpaid break after 5 hours working and two 10-minute paid rests for every 4 hours in an 8-hour workday. In general, employees are not forced to take a break but employers must make the breaks available for the employees.

Let the system does it for you. 
The definition of lunch and break entitlement is not always clear cut, as there are many types of employee and one rule is not applicable to all situations. There was a case in Chicago, America where an employee worked through lunch and she was in violation of the Federal Law. Apparently she clocked out for lunch but she didn’t stop working, and her behavior was a risk to her employer, which later terminated her position to avoid the risk of being sued in court.

Eventually, employers should be proactive and take precautionary steps or rather compulsory steps to safeguard the interests of  the company and at the same time providing employee with transparency. One of the effective ways for a company to have all the records of lunches/breaks taken by employees is through deployment of automated attendance solution. Here are 5 reasons why.

1. Settings can be done on the timings based on the company’s policies, which must be in compliance with the labor law.

An example of Break Settings in TimeTec Cloud. 
2. Each break is recorded based on the actual time taken by employees and if biometrics is chosen as one of the verification methods, authenticity is assured.

3. Calculation of time vs cost is automatic and various reports can be generated based on your requirements, and discrepancies can be corrected instantly. Besides, the data can be linked to payroll for an easier calculation at month end.

4. When data is online on cloud computing solution, the access is carried out through the Internet to both employers and employees from any location, definitely promoting transparency and creating trust.

5. Deployment of the system is fast and simple without having to configure the settings of servers or to be involved in tedious installations, and the cost is manageable according to the company labor size

Never thought that you need any of these features? Now you do. 

By having an automated system in place, employer is automatically set to comply with any labor law in one’s vicinity and in case one day being charged in court due to break and lunch hours dispute (there are so many cases, you wouldn’t believe it), all data is available as proof.

*TimeTec Cloud is now having a promotion where, when you signed up before 14 March 2014, subscription is FREE for one whole year. Grab the opportunity now and find out the many exciting and useful features of TimeTec Cloud

By Norana Johar, COO, FingerTec HQ

Between tons of work, meetings, presentations, racing towards targets and performance, companies need to take a break and take a hard lo...