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May04

Lunch Breaks

In the state of Ohio, is it required for an hourly employee to punch in and out from lunch break? If not, are they required to punch in and out if they leave the premises for lunch break?

Under both the federal and Ohio state minimum wage laws, employers must be accurate records of the hours that employees work and the wages that employees are paid, for 3 years. So if the meal break is unpaid, yes the employee should be punching in and out for the break. (Under federal law, an employer need not pay the employee for meal breaks of 20 minutes or more, as long as the employee is free of all duties. Obviously, the employee would need to punch in and out to track whether the break is 20 minutes or more.)

No employer should ever allow an employee to leave the premises for a meal break (or any other personal reason) without clocking out. This is in part because employees who are on the clock may be covered by workers comp insurance if they are injured — and the employer should not be held liable if the employee gets into a minor accident on the way to lunch.

It is a best practice in HR to have employees punch in and out for meal breaks, and most employers do so. Even if the law did not require this, the employer has the right to require that employees punch in and out for breaks, and to discipline or terminate any employee who does not.

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This entry was posted on Monday, May 4th, 2009 at 10:28 am and is filed under
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6 Responses to “Lunch Breaks”

  1. Susan Kuczinski Says:

    Our company is in New York , we would like to know if our employees need to punch for lunch? They work 7:30 – 3:30 with a 1/2 hr for lunch and 2 15min breaks. Our concern is that it would take up to 15min for the punch in and out process (waiting on line to punch) and would reduce the actual time the employee has for lunch.

  2. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Susan! Both federal and New York law require that you keep accurate records of the times that hourly employees work for 3 years. However, neither explicitely requires a time clock or any other piece of equipment. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  3. ashley torr Says:

    if i work on piece work for a hotel in the state of new hampshire… is it law to have set lunch breaks or cigarette breaks.. or is it at my own convience as long as im getting my work done… or do i have to take a break at all…. many upset housekeepers on required times for lunch breaks… when on piece work.. in new hampshire.. please help us find out

  4. Caitlin Says:

    Hi ashley! This is a complex issue. Generally, New Hampshire requires that employees be given a 30-minute meal break, unless they are permitted to eat while on duty. There is no requirement that employees be given breaks to smoke, and the employer can prohibit smoking on the property. The regulations for piece work are complex, so our suggestion is that you contact the New Hampshire Department of Labor. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  5. Cindy Says:

    Is it mandatory in Pennsylvania to take a 30 minute unpaid lunch when you work more than 6 hours?

  6. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Cindy! This is a matter of company policy rather than employment law in Pennsylvania. The state does not have a law that requires the employer to give meal or rest breaks to workers who are 18 or older. The employer is required to give a 30-minute meal break to employees who are 14 to 17 years old, and work a shift of 5 continuous hours or more.
    However, an employer in Pennsylvania can require that adult employees take a 30 minute meal break on a shift of 6 hours or longer. If the employee is relieved of work duties, the meal break can be unpaid — even if the employer requires that the worker remain on the premises. An employer can discipline or terminate any employee who does not follow this policy. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

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