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Restroom and Meal Breaks - Clarification Needed Minnesota

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  • Restroom and Meal Breaks - Clarification Needed Minnesota

    I've received conflicting information and am hoping to finally have a clear understanding regarding restroom and meal breaks in Minnesota. I know this much:

    We are required to provide our employees with a restroom break every 4 hours and a meal break - for a shift that is 8 hours or more. We provide our employees who are scheduled to work 8 hours or more with (2) paid 15-minute restroom breaks (1 every 4 hours) and a 30-minute unpaid meal break. Those who are part time and scheduled to work a 4-hour shift get (1) 15-minute paid restroom break.

    Now here is where I am seeking the clarification. Our production employees are scheduled to work 8-hour shifts. All of our employees are allowed to use the restroom whenever they need to. They are not glued to their station or desk.

    Can our production employees elect to combine their (2) 15-minute restroom breaks and decline their "meal" period? They of course would be paid for that combined 30-minute break. So essentially if someone is scheduled to work lets say 7am-3pm, they work 7.5 hours + .50 hours of break time - they get paid a full 8 hours. This time is also logged as either work or break time.

    I have yet to see something in the law that states employees cannot do this.

  • #2
    Originally posted by mnhrrep View Post
    I have yet to see something in the law that states employees cannot do this.
    There is also nothing in the law that states employees may not bring in a cot and nap at their workstations. Employers prohibit sleeping at work (at least nearly all of them) because the employer may dictate conditions of employment not directly addressed by law.

    The law does not require or phohibit the combining of rest periods, or the declination of a non-paid meal period. The employer is free to establish a policy in this regard. That policy should deal with the employer's needs for production, and may allow for the employees desires for a shorter work day with no loss in pay.

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    • #3
      The law states what MUST be done, and what MUST NOT be done. It does not address what MAY be done.

      If you cannot find a law that specifically addresses it, that means that it is up to the employer whether to allow it or not.
      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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      • #4
        Thank you both for your reply. It confirms what I thought. I just figured it never hurts to get a second opinion in case there is something I might have missed.

        Thanks again!

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        • #5
          Federal law does not require employers to pay for breaks longer than 20 minutes. So "combining" 2 paid breaks of 15 minutes each is not what is actually happening. Instead, if they are gone the entire time, they are taking 1 unpaid 30-minute break, not two separate 15-minute blocks of time.

          For those who use this method in an attempt to be paid for 8 hours in a 7.5 hour shift, I would tell them that combining paid breaks will not be allowed by company policy.

          Hope that helps.

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