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Lunch Required?

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  • Lunch Required?

    I am the laboratory supervisor in a medical laboratory in IL and have several employees who work alone during various shifts. During these times, there must be someone here to cover the urgent care type patients in case a specimen comes in to be processed stat. The question is regarding lunch break- are these people required to take a lunch break if they are working an 8-8.5 hour shift? The techs are concerned about being there for stats and usually stay in the lab area and do not clock out for lunch. My boss says they must clock out for at least 20 minutes as a lunch break every day "as this is a Federal law" but then there is no coverage for the stats. So are the techs required to clock out for 20 min or can they not take a lunch break and then leave after 8 hours? Any advice on how to handle would be appreciated. Thank you
    Last edited by rsamm; 09-27-2005, 10:52 AM. Reason: forgot state

  • #2
    It is not a Federal law; Federal law does not require any breaks for any employees.

    It is, however, an Illinois state law. Under IL law, an employee who works a 7 1/2 hour shift or longer must receive a 20 minute meal break.

    Even without a law, if the boss says you take a lunch break, you take a lunch break. No ifs, ands or buts about that. You can be legally fired for refusing to take a lunch break if your boss wants you to. Even if it isn't required by law (which in your state it is).

    They do not, however, all have to go at once. There's no reason they can't stagger the breaks so that someone is always there.
    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.


    • #3
      Clocking out for lunch

      Thank you for the info regarding federal and state laws as to whether an employee must take a lunch break. The next question which arises is since this is not a paid lunch break, can the techs be expected to have to stay in the lab area and wait for a stat specimen to arrive? There is only one tech working at these times so there is no one who can stagger with her as to taking the break. If they are not being paid for lunch, can they be expected to be available to work? Also, is there any way an employee could "opt out" and agree not to take a lunch break as long as it was put in writing and did not produce overtime?