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  • Forced lunch break?

    Is it lawful to force a 1 hour unpaid lunch break? I am at work 9am-6pm because my employer says we have to take a 1 hour unpaid lunch break. We also have 2 15 minute breaks, apparently paid. Some days I don't even eat, and on the days that I do, most of the time it's in front of my PC and it rarely takes me more than 10 minutes. I also rarely take the 2 15 minute breaks. I have rationalized with the boss many times, to get out an hour earlier if I don't take an official "hour lunch" but he says there's nothing he can do. He won't let us take our lunch at days end either (effectively getting out at 5pm)

    The law states what a person is entitled to, 30 minute lunch break, but I don't see anything about it being explicitly "required" in when it can be taken or otherwise at all .. any help deciphering this law would be a big help! Thanks!

    Fitz

    p.s. I and the others are salaried employees.

    ------------------------------------------
    M.G.L. chapter 149, sections 100 and 101

    Employees who work a period of more than six hours are entitled to a 30-minute meal break. Employees must be relieved of all duties during the meal break.

    Compensation for the 30-minute meal break must be paid if the employee has voluntarily agreed to waive his or her meal break by (1) working through his or
    her meal break, or (2) agreeing to remain on premises during the meal break.

    No meal break deduction may be taken where an employer has duly obtained an exemption.
    Last edited by Fitzbean; 09-14-2005, 11:49 AM.

  • #2
    The law says that if you work a 6 hour shift or longer, you are entitled to a 30 minute, unpaid break. You MUST be granted this under the law.

    However, the law does not prohibit an employer from requiring additional breaks. If the employer wants you to take a one hour break, then you take a one hour break, whether the law says you have to or not. The employer can require you to take MORE than the law says; they just can't give you less.

    In the absence of a law saying that the break must be taken at any particular time within the work shift (some states do have such a requirement - MA does not) the employer is free to dictate when the break is taken. They have no obligation to let you skip the break and leave an hour early. It's their choice to make, not yours.

    It doesn't matter whether the boss honestly believes that more is required than actually is (perhaps he comes from a different state where the break laws are different; perhaps he, like many others, misunderstands the law); whether he knows what is required and just doesn't want to get into an argument with you so he's claiming it's a law; or whether his hands have been tied by someone over his head who won't permit him to make any changed. The bottom line is that you have been told by someone in authority over you what the company break requirements are, and as long as they are not less than the law requires you to receive, you are required to abide by them.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    • #3
      Really now.. So with that rational, the boss could make me take a 16 hour lunch break, I would come in at 9, break from 12 noon to 3am, work from 3am to 9am and start all over again! I mean, there must be some sort of limitation to this rational you are clinging to no? It doesn't make sense that anything that isn't explicitly stated is "up to the boss" - the law says 30 minutes - why is it ok to overshoot the law, but not under cut it? I don't understand. Even highways have low-end speed limits. Are you sure about this, or is it just what you believe?

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      • #4
        I am sure about it. You will not find anyone at the AG's office (which functions as the DOL in this state) telling an employer that they can't offer any more breaks than are mandated by law, or that the employee has the exclusive right to decide when to take the break, regardless of how the employer has set the work hours.

        Feel free to contact the AG's office yourself if you like, and ask them if the employer is violating the law by making you take an hour lunch break and by not letting you take it at the end of the day so that you can leave early.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          And I'm sure about it too.
          I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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          • #6
            30 Minute lunch break in Massachusetts

            Does this law apply to teachers also? In my school we are allowed only 20 minutes for lunch.

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            • #7
              1.) Are you exempt or non-exempt?

              2.) How many hours is your work day?
              The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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              • #8
                Lunch Break

                We work from 7:45 until 2:45. I don't think I'm exempt--not sure what that means--

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                • #9
                  I'd ask if you were paid on a salaried or an hourly basis, but it wouldn't do any good since teaching is one of the professions where an exempt employee can be paid on an hourly basis. The best I can offer you as that it is *probably* legal that you only get 20 minutes for lunch. You can contact the AG's Fair Consumer and Employment line for a more definite answer.
                  The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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                  • #10
                    lunch breaks

                    thanks for the info. I am also wondering if there is any labor law that governs how long an employee has to work without a break--some in my building teach 4 periods of 70 minutes in a row, without any break. It seems that there should be at least a "built in" bathroom break.

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                    • #11
                      It's hard to believe the teachers can't run to the restroom in between classes. After all, the students have to have time to get between classes, too.
                      I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                      • #12
                        well

                        The students have 2 mins. between classes. Most of us do run to the bathroom during that time. The nearest one to me takes about 2 mins to get to, and obviously more than 2 mins to use--unlike the students, we can't leave the class to go --unless we ask a neighbor to look in on a class, which is tough when you have 30 or more of your own students to look after. In most professions, people don't have to make "arrangements" to go to the bathroom. I find that most people outside the profession have unrealistic views of what it's like to be in a classroom. To do everything involved in teaching a class four times in a row for seventy minutes each time, with a new group of students and personalities coming at you, and no break at all--well.......believe me it is harder than any other job I have ever had--and I have had a few others.

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                        • #13
                          The state of Massachusetts does not require any breaks other than already described. You will have to continue running to the restroom between classes; there is no obligation to provide any other breaks than the meal break above.

                          In all the 50 states, only one specifically addresses restroom breaks. That state is not MA, and even in that state they only required "enough time"; they do not require x number of minutes per shift. Plenty of people besides teachers have to make arrangements to use the restroom. What about people working on an assembly line? They can't just leave the line any time they feel like it - they have to arrange to have their station covered.

                          I am a former teacher.
                          The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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                          • #14
                            Former being the key word

                            Any assembly line workers that I ever heard of have scheduled breaks for the most part.

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                            • #15
                              Fine, then. No one anywhere in the US has to scramble to find time to use the rest room but teachers. Not a single soul who isn't teaching ever runs into that problem. Regardless of state law, company policy, or job logistics, you are the only profession without guaranteed bathroom breaks.

                              Since you say so, it must be true. Is that what you want to hear?

                              Get over yourself.
                              The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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