In most workplaces, employees are entitled to a lunch break to get a breather from the long day at work. A hardworking and dedicated workforce is a boom for any company, and every worker must be provided every opportunity to restore their mental and physical health.
Taking time to eat lunch is not considered an official work hour. There are no federal break laws that employers are bound to. Yet, every company should maintain its employee lunch break policy. Such a policy is critical in keeping workers as productive as possible and to prevent time misuse.
If your company still doesn’t have an employee break policy, this guide is for you. Read on to learn more on how you can create an employee friendly break policy at work.
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Why is the lunch break policy important at the workplace?
If your workers are not taking regular breaks, it will harm their well-being, and ultimately their work performance will decline. Making workers work without breaks may seem stellar, but it has negative consequences for employees and employers.
To maintain a positive workforce and encourage workers to take breaks, you must make efforts to let workers know that it’s alright to take lunch breaks. To ensure clarity, a comprehensive employee lunch break policy will help.
Here are some of the reasons to have a lunch break policy.
1. Improves productivity and efficiency
Maximizing productivity and efficiency means something other than making employees work continuously throughout the day. When you allow rest and meal breaks, it has a direct effect on task attention and productivity.
This has been shown to have a ripple effect on the sales and revenue within the company. An employee-friendly break policy encourages them to put their best at work, and a dedicated workforce is essential for any company.
2. Reduced health risks
Employees in a company with an ideal lunch policy tend to have fewer health conditions associated with long work hours. Stress and fatigue are the most common issues workers face if the working conditions are unhealthy.
For employers, an unhealthy workforce means increased absence rates, poor shift scheduling, and low production. A friendly employee break policy builds trust between employers and employees. It makes the foundation for a trustful relationship between employers and employees.
Meal and rest breaks keep the working environment stress-free, and you get a happy workforce. Happy workers proactively work harder and give their best, which improves product and service quality. It is an intangible benefit that increases and improves productivity in the long term.
3. Compliance with the law
Running a business requires compliance with the laws of its jurisdiction. Regulations regarding lunch break policy are becoming more prevalent. A lunch break policy will provide clear guidance to workers on the company’s stance on meal and rest breaks.
It will also help comply with local, state, and federal laws. Therefore, having a break policy for hourly employees benefits the workers and enables you to be on the right side of the law.
Break laws in different countries
When creating and implementing an employee lunch break policy, you must know the current state labor law requirements. Check out the guidelines regarding scheduled lunch break policy in different countries.
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), there are no federal break laws. But there are local state laws regarding meal and rest breaks. You can learn about the meal break laws for your state from the U.S. Department of Labor site here. Almost half of the U.S. states have lunch break laws that require employers to avail a 30-minute break for workers who perform over six hours of work within a single shift.
States of California, Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, Vermont, and Washington make it mandatory that all workers, irrespective of their roles, must be provided paid rest breaks by law. In comparison, other states cover only specific types of workers. For instance, Maryland’s Shift Break law only covers retail workers.
In India, most states follow the Factories Act guidelines that mandate a 48-hours work week. Companies can make workers work up to 9 hours daily, including the lunch break. Most state laws provide a break of 30 to 60 minutes every four to five hours worked.
However, most companies provide a one-hour lunch break in an eight-hour shift.
According to the Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations in the Private Sector, companies must follow the 8 hours per day or 48 hours per week shift schedule. The law also entitles “any worker has the right to have one or more breaks, if he works five consecutive hours. These breaks must not be less than one hour. Breaks are not calculated within the working hours.“
How to design an effective lunch break policy?
When creating a lunch break policy for your company, you must first determine the state’s legal requirements. Then you can proceed to include the best practices for allowable breaks. A friendly employee lunch break policy is comprehensive and precise, with a specified amount of break time per number of hours worked.
Here is a lunch break policy sample that you can refer to.
Sample Lunch & Break Policy
[Company Name] provides full and part-time employees with meal and lunch breaks to ensure they can remain productive at work. These breaks can be used for any reason, such as restroom use, smoking (in designated areas only), coffee breaks, meal or snack breaks, telephone breaks, or short naps. We provide two kinds of breaks and a break room for you to use.
Rest breaks are to be 15 minutes at maximum. You are not required to take a break, but we encourage it for your health and well-being. Here’s how it works:
- Breaks are offered 2 times a day for full-time employees who work 6 hours or more daily.
- They are provided only once daily for part-time employees who work 5 hours or less daily.
- Rest breaks are on the clock, meaning you don’t have to clock-out for a rest break.
- Breaks can be taken any time after your first 2 hours on a given workday.
- Employees must remain in the building or the property during their rest break.
- Employees should use the break room rather than stay in the work area.
- So as not to cause a distraction to other workers, not on break.
- Please notify your supervisor/manager when a rest break is needed to ensure work is covered while you’re on break.
Lunch breaks work similarly to rest breaks except that they are:
1) longer than rest breaks, and
2) the amount of time you’re on a lunch break is not paid time.
- With supervisor approval, employees are allowed to choose the amount of time they take for
- Lunch, between 30-60 minutes. Here’s how it works:
- Employees who work 6 or more hours a day are provided a lunch break.
- Part-time employees, or those who work 5 hours a day or less, do not get a lunch break.
- Employees who work over 10 hours in one shift are allowed to take two lunch breaks.
- It would help if you clocked out and/or recorded your lunch break as unpaid hours on your timesheet.
- Lunch breaks are typically taken after the first 3-4 hours on the job, depending on your schedule. Work with your supervisor to determine the best time to take your lunch break.
- You are encouraged to leave the property for your lunch break, but you are also welcome to use the lunch area or outdoor picnic area for your lunch break.
We understand there are times when an employee has an emergency, such as when they feel ill or have to take an urgent phone call. Talk to your supervisor in these situations to accommodate your emergency.
Break Time Policy Violations
While our break-time policy is generous, breaks will be monitored to ensure that work does not suffer. Therefore, we reserve the right to discipline any employee found abusing our break time policy. For example, taking too many breaks, taking breaks that are too long, disturbing staff that are not on break, or abusing the use of emergency break time.
Challenges to implementing employee lunch break policy
The break policy for hourly employees has some implementation challenges that managers must be aware of.
1. Share policy with workers
Only some workers will take time to look for the scheduled lunch break policy. Managers must ensure that workers know the policies regarding meal and rest breaks between shifts. While notice boards and circulars can do the trick, it is better to involve a notification system for sharing the break policy at work.
As labor laws change, it requires policies at work are updated every time there are amendments made to state or local labor laws. Compliance can be tricky if no software solution is in place to notify all workers when the employee break policy is updated.
3. Tracking employee time
Providing lunch breaks is essential, but how do you ensure that workers abide by the company’s break policy? This is why monitoring employee time is mandatory, but it can be challenging if it has to be done manually. Employee time and attendance tracking software solutions can help.
Truein for employee lunch break policy implementation
Truein is an employee time and attendance software that offers real-time monitoring of work hours. A cloud-based, hardwareless app, Truein can easily be deployed at multiple sites. It has GPS geofencing and face recognition to prevent buddy punching and time theft.
To ensure adherence to the employee break policy, it offers multiple punch-in and punch-outs so workers can take breaks per company policy. Using the Truein app, workers can request a break. Managers and supervisors are notified about the request and then can approve the request. It also features over 70 customizable policy templates that allow managers to create and maintain separate policies for contractual and permanent employees.
An employee lunch break policy is your way of providing workers with time to de-stress and rejuvenate between long hours of work. When implemented correctly, an employee break policy can benefit overall employee health and well-being, creating a happy workforce. For employers, it provides long-term benefits in productivity and efficiency.