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Lunch Breaks

We are an employer based in New Jersey. For our hourly employees would there be any issues in implementing a policy where staff who work 8 hours or more per day (Full Time staff) receive a one-hour PAID lunch break within that 8 hour period. As opposed to staff who work 5 hours per day (Part Time Staff) and they would only receive a 30 minute UNPAID lunch break. Does the policy have to be uniform in terms of all staff receiving a paid lunch break or can we differentiate between full time and part time staff as mentioned above. Thanks in advance for your help.

There is no law in New Jersey that requires employers to provide adult employees with breaks or meal periods, either paid or unpaid. The only mandatory break law applies to minors under the age of 18 who must be given a 30 minute meal period after 5 consecutive hours of work. Company policy dictates break and meal periods for anyone over the age of 18.

Thus, offering different lunch break durations and compensation entitlements to different groups of employees is permissible and at the discretion of the employer.

Criteria must be based upon employment related classifications such as full time or part time (as you mention), exempt or non-exempt, length of service, or job group. However, it’s important to consider if the criteria creates an adverse impact on protected groups or unintentional discrimination.

For example, let’s assume the majority of full time employees are men while the majority of part time employees are women. Adopting a policy in which full time employees receive additional compensation for lunch breaks may appear discriminatory. This may be a far-fetched example but the idea is still important to consider.

It’s also important to note that under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) an employee must be completely relieved of his duties in order for a meal period to be unpaid. An employee that is suffered or permitted to work during his lunch break must be paid for the time.

If you choose to adopt separate policies for staff, be sure the policies are clear, easily understood and communicated to all staff.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 17th, 2015 at 7:12 pm and is filed under
Compensation, Labor Laws.
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