View Full Version : Official Lunch Break

04-03-2006, 10:13 AM
I work as a receptionist for a company in Florida, I get paid salary and work from 8:30-5:30. I feel like I don't really get a lunch break, IF I do leave for lunch I have to forward the phone calls to my cell phone and answer the phone and take messages and call people to relay the messages all while trying to eat, I also have to go to the bank everyday on my lunch break...this isn't a huge deal but it takes up time. I can't leave for a long time either, say I want to take my entire hour out of the office it doesn't go over very well because someone might walk in to the office to see someone even though NO ONE ever comes into this office. I feel like I should get the entire hour out of the office with no phone calls so I can eat in peace. And if not that shouldn't I be paid for that hour as well....??

04-03-2006, 10:53 AM
Florida, like many other States, does not require that an employer provide meal or rest breaks. Federal wage and hour laws require that you be paid for all time worked - including meal breaks unless the employee is entirely relieved of all duties during that time.

04-03-2006, 11:20 AM
So technically I should get to leave without the phone for one hour, unless I get paid for that hour

04-03-2006, 01:02 PM
Not quite. If you are not entirely relieved of duty, you have to be paid for the time, yes. But you are not "technically" or any other way entitled to a lunch break, either.

04-04-2006, 07:49 AM
So in response to all this. My fiance was recently given a "raise" to come in earlier than everyone else. She now works from 7:30-5:00 everyday with only 1/2 hour to eat at her desk and answer the phones. She physically works a total of 9 hours everyday - 45 hours a week. The "raise" they gave her turns out to be less money than she would have gotten if they paid her overtime time pay at her old salary. How can this be fair? Does she have any rights with this?

04-04-2006, 07:52 AM
The "raise" is irrelevant. If she's not relieved of duty, then it's not a bona fide meal break, and that time is compensable.

04-04-2006, 08:09 AM
So regardless of the "raise" they gave her, is she still entitled to ovetime pay for the 5 extra hours she is putting in a week. Essentially her boss told her, if you work the extra hour a day, we'll give you a "raise" of $x.xx. If you don't you will stay at your old salary. As previously stated, the raise is less than the overtime pay she would earned for the extra hour a day at her old salary. The problem is, it's a Catch 22. We need the extra cash a week so the "raise" is helping... but in the same token, we know she is being screwed in the deal and if she brings it up, because this is a very small company, they may fire her. Isn't what they are doing a form of extortion?

04-04-2006, 08:18 AM
What they are doing is violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. And they figure you will think exactly what you ARE thinking and she won't file a complaint. It seems they may be right. :(

04-04-2006, 08:28 AM
Ok, I knew they were doing something that wasn't quite right..... or fair. How an employer can treat someone like that is beyond me. Essentially, all we can do is suck it up. Doesn't seem right at all, but it is what it is.
Thanks for your help
If only Eliot Spitzer knew what he was up to with his business. (Life Insurance)

Christie Lowe
04-06-2006, 04:15 PM

Thank you in advance for your response. We are in Florida and in the process of hiring new and revising other job positions. Following the updated exempt vs. hourly labor laws we have determined that several people will need to have their employment status changed to hourly. We have certain hours that must be worked in order to service our customers (availability) i.e between the hours of 7:00 and 4:00. We are requesting that these previously "exempt" employees take an hour lunch each day and are not offering the chance to NOT lunch and to leave early, and or come in early and leave early. This has caused quite a stir. Are we within our legal rights? What about breaks? We offer two fifteen minute breaks a day, but our smokers have in the past taken breaks MUCH more often as exempt employees. How do we let our employees know that we care, but can not allow freedom of hours and overtime paid (they work through lunch and do not clock out and now want to be paid overtime). Thoughts? Thank You SO much!

Christie Lowe

04-06-2006, 05:16 PM
Yes, you are within your legal rights. The employer sets the hours worked, not the employee. You are free to set whatever break schedule you like, since neither Federal nor Florida law requires breaks at all. (NO state requires smoke breaks.)

(I realize that on the schedule you have described they will not be working over 40 hours a week regularly, but if they do work over 40 hours a week at any time, overtime is mandatory.)

Christie Lowe
04-06-2006, 05:50 PM
My goodness.. you have responded so quickly?! Many thanks. I am not quite sure I understand your 7:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday as not being a forty hour work week? Maybe I did not make myself clear? As I understand it - these hours encompass a one hour lunch break unpaid. Fifteen minute breaks during the morning and afternoon are our (the employers) responsibility for coverage and payment. How would one handle a worker taking more "smoke breaks" than the company policy allows?
THANKS and Warmest Regards (I truly appreciate your assistance).
Christie Lowe

04-06-2006, 06:12 PM
You only have to count the hours they actually work towards the forty hours. The unpaid lunch hour does not count. So they are actually working exactly 40 hours a week. (The two 15 minute breaks have to be paid; Federal law does not require breaks, but says that IF breaks are offered, breaks of under 20 minutes must be paid.) If they go over the 40 hours, you have to pay any time over 40 as overtime.

You handle an employee overtaking smoke break times the way you would handle any other disciplinary issue. I personally would do it by verbal warning, written warning, final last chance written warning, termination. But you should use whatever is your usual procedure.

I would be inclined to ease into this, though. Many employees see being exempt as a "status" thing and this is going to be hard on them. I'd tend to have a grace period to get used to the new regime before coming down too hard. But be consistant, and make sure they understand what is expected of them.

Christie Lowe
04-06-2006, 06:23 PM
Thank you VERY much for your guidance. You are much appreciated and all you have mentioned will be applied.
Have a terrific night / weekend.. Christie Lowe

04-06-2006, 06:39 PM
Good luck to you. C'mon back if you have any more questions.

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