Are you an employer that allows your employees the flexibility to schedule their own time “off the clock” for breaks?
If you are – you’d better make sure you’re paying them for all the time they’ve worked for you.
What do we mean by that?
Do you know how “hours worked” is defined by law?
Hours worked is not defined as just the amount of time an employee spends performing his or her job duties. Short breaks of 20 minutes or less also count as hours worked and must be accounted for in employee paychecks.
Are you surprised?
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals just issued a ruling on this very topic and adopted the U.S. Department of Labor policy that holds “breaks of twenty minutes or less are insufficient to allow for anything other than the kind of activity (or inactivity) that, by definition, primarily benefits the employer.”
In the case before the court, the employer in question did not deny it permitted its employees to take short breaks for matters unrelated to work. This employer did, however, refuse to call those short events “breaks” – saying instead that they considered breaks to be part of a “flex time” arrangement in which employees could take any amount of unpaid time away from work at any time, for any length of time and any reason.
The court ultimately decided that not paying employees for these short breaks violated their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
What’s the takeaway here for Connecticut employers?
Make sure your employee policies and procedures are reviewed by an experienced employment law attorney. Also make sure you have a system in place to accurately record employee time on the job, not only to comply with the record-keeping requirements of FLSA but to document any abuse.
If you’re an employer with questions about labor and employment laws, consider calling on the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Connecticut. We do one thing and one thing only – we are an employer defense law firm – in fact, we are one of the largest employer defense law firms in the region. What’s more, each of our attorneys has over 20 years of experience in employment law and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please contact us if we can help you.
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