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  • Smoking Break Pennsylvania

    The company I work for is going to ban all smoking in the building the first of next year. They currently let us take short breaks when ever we want to as long as we do not leave the work area. When the smoking ban goes into effect they said we must leave the building in order to smoke and to do that we must punch out even if it is only for 5 minutes. They do not want to pay us for smoking on a break. Is this legal?

    Also they have another location in the same state that the workers can still smoke on their paid breaks.
    Is it legal to have a different policy for different buildings?
    Last edited by mpi11; 12-07-2006, 09:47 AM.

  • #2
    It is legal to have a different policy for different locations. According to federal law, any breaks of less than 20 minutes must be paid. However, neither federal or PA law requires rest breaks, so if the employer chooses to not let you take breaks for any reason, that would be legal.

    I would also note that it isn't the "clocking out" for 5 minutes that is the violation itself; it would be the failure to pay for a 5 minute break that would be the violation.
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    • #3
      If they choose to say that you cannot smoke anywhere on the premises, including the grounds or your own cars on their parking lot, that is legal also.
      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
        Smoking Break Pennsylvania

        I would also note that it isn't the "clocking out" for 5 minutes that is the violation itself; it would be the failure to pay for a 5 minute break that would be the violation.

        What if "clocking out" for 5 minutes was for a personal phone call during normal working hours? (not on a break)

        The company policy is No Personal Phone Calls, but if we must then we have to clock out.

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        • #5
          If you are stepping away from your work to attend to personal business, that is a break no matter what your employer wants to call it. They can forbid you from taking the calls, but if they allow the breaks in order to do this, and those breaks are under 20 minutes, they must be paid. You can still be required to punch in and out, but the time must be paid.
          I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mpi11 View Post
            They do not want to pay us for smoking on a break. Is this legal?
            As pointed out by others, if your break is less than 20 minutes, federal law requires you to be paid.

            Now, as an employer, I would simply not let you take the five minute smoke break.

            What do you want? The pay or the smoke break? You won't get both. I am legally required to pay you but not required to give you a smoke break.
            Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ScottB View Post
              Now, as an employer, I would simply not let you take the five minute smoke break.

              What do you want? The pay or the smoke break? You won't get both. I am legally required to pay you but not required to give you a smoke break.
              Exactly, ScottB. OP, I wouldn't be surprised if you pursue this internally that the breaks might be eliminated altogether. Then, it's also likely that the nonsmokers will blame the smokers because they no longer get breaks. I'm not altogether unsympathetic, because I'm a smoker myself, but I've worked at facilities where smoking is not allowed on the premises at all, even in the car in the parking lot. It can be dealt with.
              I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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