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Breaks for Salaried Employees

What are the break and lunch requirements for salaried employees in Washington State? If a salaried employee is required to attend a meeting where lunch is provided are they still allowed a break?

Though there is no federal law that requires private employers to provide employees with rest breaks or meal periods, some states have adopted such mandates. Washington is one of them.

Employers in Washington State must provide adult employees with both rest breaks and meal periods.

A paid rest break of at least 10 minutes is required for every 4 hours worked. The rest break must be allowed no later than the end of the third hour of the shift.

At least a 30 minute meal period must be allowed if an employee works more than 5 hours. Workers must be at least 2 hours into the shift before the meal period can start. The meal period cannot start more than 5 hours after the beginning of the shift. As long as workers are completely relieved of their work duties during the meal period, they need not be compensated for the time.

It’s permissible for employers to require employees to remain on site during their rest breaks or meal periods. Employees must be completely relieved of their work duties; otherwise, they’re entitled to compensation for their meal periods.

So, if a meeting extends beyond 5 hours, employees are entitled to at least a 30 minute meal period. Whether lunch is provided is irrelevant. Employees are still entitled to their meal period and the employer is still permitted to require employees stay on site. As previously stated, if the employee performs any work duties, the time must be compensated.

Employees are able to waive their rights to a meal period. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries advises employers to obtain a written statement from employees who wish to waive their meal period entitlements.

Lastly, employees are either non-exempt or exempt as defined by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Non-exempt employees must be paid for all hours worked and are subject to overtime and minimum wage requirements prescribed by the FLSA. Conversely, exempt employees receive a fixed predetermined salary and are excluded from overtime pay provisions.

A salaried employee is often an exempt employee. However, it’s important to point out that salary and hourly paid are compensation terms. Though uncommon, it’s possible for a non-exempt employee to receive a salary.

Let’s assume you’re referring to an exempt employee as defined under the FLSA.

Exempt employees must receive their fixed predetermined salary for any workweek during which work is performed regardless of the quantity or quality of work performed. There are very few permissible deductions from an exempt employee’s salary. Deductions for meal periods is not one of them. Now, an employer can take meal periods in to consideration when determining an exempt employee’s salary and the amount of hours per week the employee is expected to usually work. However, an employer may not make deductions from an exempt employee’s salary for meal periods.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 at 7:21 pm and is filed under
Compensation, Labor Laws.
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