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  • Lunch? Washington

    I am a salaried exempt employee in Washington State. My employer requires me to take a 1 hour unpaid lunch. Are there any laws here governing this or is it just a requirement of my position?

  • #2
    The Salaried Exempt rules are federal FSLA regulation 29 CFR 541.602. There is nothing in that rule, or elsewhere in federal or state law which prohibits the employer from creating otherwise legal "work rules". Dictating what hours you work (and do not) work, and when you have lunch or breaks is normally well within the employer's perogative. There is nothing in your "Exemptness" that changes this.

    Also, your lunch is neither paid or unpaid. As a Salaried Exempt employee, you are paid exactly the same salary whether or not you take lunch, whether you take a short or long lunch, eat at your desk or somewhere else, and whether you work overtime or not. Your employer can dock you for entire workdays voluntarily not worked, entire workweeks involuntarily not worked, but with a very few other exceptions is legally required to pay you your salary irregardless of actual hours worked.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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    • #3
      DAW said it, but to be clear -- as a salaried exempt employee, you are paid for the week. The lunch time you are required to take is covered by your salary, be it a half hour, one hour or an hour and a half.

      You are not being forced to take an hour away from work each day without pay, IF you are a salaried exempt employee.
      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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      • #4
        And, to put it very bluntly, whether you are salaried or hourly, exempt or non-exempt, full time or part time, it is up to the employer to determine what hours you work, and that includes lunch breaks. If your employer requires a one hour unpaid lunch break, you take a one hour unpaid lunch break. There is no Federal law and no law in any state that prohibits an employer from requiring breaks, paid or unpaid.
        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
          Can the employer force your lunch at a certain time of day. For example, I'd prefer to work 8 straight hours while munching on veggies at my desk and go home to my family one hour earlier instead of twiddling my thumbs for an hour in the office.

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          • #6
            Under Washington law, your lunch break MUST be taken after the second hour and before the fifth hour of your shift.

            But even if your state did not have such a law, it would be entirely up to the employer whether or not to allow that. NO state is going to force your employer to allow you to take your lunch break as the last hour of the 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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            • #7
              Yes, an employer can force almost any employee to work pretty much any hours the employer wants. This includes dictating the exact times lunch or breaks are taken. Some states also have something to say on the subject. An employee working 8 straight hours is not legal in all states. Since you are not the original poster of this thread, we cannot assume that you are a State of Washington employee.
              "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
              Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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              • #8
                Rather than creating a new thread, figured I'd post here.

                As a salary employee, can an employer request I work more than 40hrs/week (actual work time)?

                Thanks in advance.
                Last edited by fphf; 12-02-2007, 07:58 PM.

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                • #9
                  You really should have started your own thread - it gets confusing for the posters otherwise.

                  By salary I don't know if you are exempt or non-exempt (it's just a pay method) but either way you can be required to work over 40 hrs. a week. If you refuse, you can be disciplined up to & including be fired.

                  If you are non-exempt, you would get paid overtime for hrs. worked over 40 in the week - if you're exempt, you would get no add'l. pay over your regular weekly salary no matter how many hrs. you work.
                  Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                  Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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                  • #10
                    We would PREFER you to start new threads.
                    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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                    • #11
                      Agreed. It not only gets confusing having several different unrelated sets of questions and answers in the thread, but it wastes time reading old questions and answers that end up having nothing to do with the current question. Also, many responders will not bother to read all of the way through an old thread to try to find the current question (some of us either have lives or would like to try to have a life).
                      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                      Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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                      • #12
                        Correction to Response #6

                        Actually, in the state of Washington,

                        If more than 5 hours are worked in a shift:

                        Workers must be allowed at least a 30 minute meal period.
                        Workers must be at least two hours into the shift before the meal time can start.
                        The meal time cannot start more than five hours after the beginning of the shift.

                        Workers may give up their meal period if they prefer to work through it and if the employer agrees.

                        Business owners please note: The Department of Labor and Industries recommends that you get a written statement from workers who want give up their meal periods.

                        Other related questions answered at the Department of Labor and industries website:
                        http://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRight...ks/default.asp

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                        • #13
                          And this thread is from over a year ago. I suspect that the OP has long since gone on his or her way.
                          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
                            <------ Op

                            I appreciate all the information posted.

                            I would really like to approach management about foregoing my midday lunch period in favor of leaving an hour ealier.

                            Other thoughts: Some salaried employees at our company are not required to take breaks, while others like myself are. And some salaried employees are required to keep specific office hours while others are not.

                            Are there any laws governing any of these issues?

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                            • #15
                              As long as Title VII and related laws are not being violated, no. It is up to the employer who works what hours, regardless of pay method.

                              Just want to point out to other responders that this IS the OP and therefore, despite the age of the thread, is entitled to add to it without being requested to start a new one.
                              Last edited by cbg; 01-06-2009, 06:00 PM.
                              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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