Lunch and break laws vary by region. The United States federal government doesn’t mandate coffee breaks or lunch periods. However, 20 states have state-specific requirements. Canada requires a 30-minute break for every five consecutive hours of work, and the United Kingdom instructs employers to provide at least a 20-minute break after six hours.
For this week’s Pulse of the PROs, we want to know how you handle breaks, including navigating local regulations and appeasing driver preferences. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact JohnTalk on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. You can also leave a reply at the bottom of this page.
Portable restroom operators have different policies across the globe. Some are informed by local, state, or national regulations, whereas others develop processes based on industry best practices. This also may differ between businesses that pay drivers by the hour versus those paying per route.
Do you require drivers to take a lunch break after a certain number of work hours? If so, is it paid or unpaid and government-mandated or self-imposed? For those that don’t require lunch breaks, what reasons led you to this decision? We’ve heard that some drivers prefer to avoid breaks while on a route, whereas others snack while driving.
Written policies typically explain what a business considers an authorized break. It’s in the employee handbook to make it easier to calculate overtime and reprimand or terminate workers who don’t follow your rules. However, some PROs acknowledge that they handle breaks for drivers differently than other staff.
Do you have different break or lunch rules for drivers versus office or shop workers? If so, is it based on position, hours worked, or payment (hourly, salary, or route-based)?
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A wage and hour lawsuit stems from forcing employees to clock out for a break yet requiring them to be available or work during it. Likewise, those in areas with mandated breaks or lunch periods could get hit with a labor board claim. In both cases, poor documentation can go against your company, leaving you on the hook for substantial back pay.
Most regions make filing a wage and hour claim against a company relatively easy. For instance, Kentucky has an online portal for workers to report if they were denied a 10-minute paid break every four hours. But Kentucky treats mealtime slightly differently. The state requires a meal period between the third and fifth hours of work shifts “unless you and your employer have mutually agreed to some other arrangement.”
Again, documentation is critical. Do you require staff to record breaks on their timecards? Have they signed an annual or quarterly acknowledgment form regarding meal and rest break policies?
Many regions establish lunch and break guidelines to protect workers from negligent or strong-arm employers. Moreover, most industries recommend allowing or encouraging breaks due to the evidence showing that short breaks improve attention levels, productivity, and safety.
However, not every driver wants to pause their route for 20 or 30 minutes daily. And, as long as the law allows, it’s acceptable. But wage and hour lawsuits are common and expensive. Failing to follow local regulations can harm your reputation and finances.
Let us know how you handle breaks by emailing us at email@example.com or messaging JohnTalk on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. You can also leave a reply at the bottom of this page.
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