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Timekeeping in Maine

In the state of Maine, is it required for an hourly employee to punch in and out from lunch break if the leave the premises ? If an exempt employee is not, why not? How can I properly explain this to the hourly folks so they understand the difference.

There is no federal law requiring employers to provide meal periods or rest breaks to employees. However, some states have adopted such laws including Maine.

Per the Maine Department of Labor: Employers in Maine must give employees the opportunity to take an unpaid rest break of 30 consecutive minutes after 6 hours worked if 3 or more people are on duty. An employee and employer may negotiate for more or less breaks, but both must agree (this should be put in writing). No coffee, bathroom, or smoking breaks are required.

So, the law doesn’t require the break to be paid. Thus, non-exempt or hourly paid employees would need to punch out for that time. Exempt employees could also be required to punch out for the break time; however, they’re salary cannot be reduced.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

Under the FLSA, employees are either non-exempt or exempt.

Non-exempt employees must be paid for all hours worked and are subject to overtime and minimum wage requirements prescribed by the FLSA. Non-exempt employees need not be paid for time not actually worked, such as a 30 minute meal period/break. Just remember, short breaks typically lasting less than 20 minutes must be compensated.

Employers are obligated under the FLSA to maintain specific records for non-exempt employees including the total number of hours worked each day and each workweek. Thus, an employer should require non-exempt employees to clock in/out to accurately record compensable hours worked.

Conversely, exempt employees receive a fixed predetermined salary for each workweek during which work is performed regardless of the quantity or quality of work performed. Deductions from an exempt employee’s salary are only permitted in limited circumstances. Rest breaks or meal periods of any duration is not a permissible deduction. Thus, employers typically don’t require exempt employees to punch in/out, especially for meal periods, since the time is covered by the employee’s salary.

However, employers are permitted to record and track exempt employees’ hours worked. So, an employer may require an exempt employee to punch out for a lunch break but the employee’s salary cannot be reduced.

Basically, inform your non-exempt staff that you’re required by federal law to accurately track each and every hour they work. Thus, when they take a 30 minute lunch break they must clock out since they’re not working and not getting paid for the time. Then explain that there is no such mandate for exempt employees; thus, they don’t have to clock out for their lunch break.

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 29th, 2015 at 9:22 pm and is filed under
Compensation, Labor Laws.
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