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Another lunch break question - West Virginia

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  • Another lunch break question - West Virginia

    Here is my dilemma.

    I know WV requires a half hour lunch break (at least 20 mins) for every 6 hour shift. I have at least 2 employees who do not want to take a break at all. Since my department REQUIRES a 1 hour (unpaid) break for every 6 hours, I reluctantly go by the law of 1/2 hour per every 6 hours.

    Now, when I figure the time sheets, I subtract the half hour for every shift of 6.0 hours. (I also tell them to let me know if because of something beyond their control they do not get to take the break and I'll initial the time card)

    The employees argue that if forced to take a half hour break, they have only worked 5.5 hours and therefore should be exempt from the half hour break requirement.

    I need some clarification. Can anyone help?


  • #2
    What difference does it make? If the company policy is XX, then they have to follow the company policy just like anybody else. Don't let the tail wag the dog.

    Having said that, you might want to ask this question of the state DOL directly. In some states that require meal breaks such as you describe, there is an exception, in that "break is required if the employee works at least 5 hours, unless if the total hours are no more than 6, it can be waived". Or something like that.
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    • #3

      I guess I didn't explain too well. We work in a Med School. I am the Soc Serv Director. I only have 2 staff that work for me directly. We are grant funded and we are official employees of the university rather than the physicians & surgeons group.

      The University's employee policies vary from location to location. Both my employees are part time workers. The Physician & surgeons group employs only full time workers. The office shuts down for 1 hour each day at lunch time. The nature of our jobs has us meeting with families periodically throughout the day, often during the shut down lunch time.

      I officially write the policies relating to my 2 employees. I try to keep it in line with the Physicians & surgeons group, but often the job requirements differ to the point of needing separate policies. (another example is comp-time when we travel to conferences, etc and the Phys & surg group do not allow comp time. Due to grant funding down to the exact dollar, we utilize comp time)

      So, I am trying to determine a policy for lunch breaks that will allow both flexability and accountability.

      I did like the suggestion of waiving a lunch break requirement for any hours under 6, but am afraid it will come back to bite me in the butt one day.

      One girl (30 hours per week) works from 7:30 to 1:30 each day and the lunch requirement reduces her number of hours worked by 2.5 per week.

      Any more suggestions anyone? (I hope i didn't ramble too much)

      Thanks, Bossy1


      • #4
        OK, clearer now. Let me cogitate on this and if no one responds further I try to respond later tonight.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


        • #5
          It's a gray area. The website says "work day" of 6 or more hours. I'd give the state DOL a call and ask for their opinion; theirs is the only one that matters anyway.

          OTOH, since with the meal break, the employee you mention would only be working 5.5 hours anyway, could you just schedule her for a 5.5 hour day? Then the meal break becomes a non-issue.

          And not that you asked, but I'm assuming the employer here is a government agency where comp time instead of cash payment for overtime is allowed for nonexempt employees? Just checking.
          Last edited by Pattymd; 08-07-2008, 03:16 AM.
          I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


          • #6
            Unless you work for WVU or Marshall, comp time isn't allowed. Being grant funded has nothing to do with it. Working for a state entity does.

            If I understand correctly it isn't that the employees are forgoing the meal break entirely, but rather that they are only taking a half hour as opposed to the whole hour that the department is otherwise off. If they are not taking a break at all, then they are working 6 hours and yes, they must take a break. There is a flaw in their logic. The only reason they are working 5.5 is because of the break. If you choose to just schedule them for 5.5 consecutive hours, then no break is necessary, but not having them there for that extra half hour may not be feasible for other reasons.

            Ultimately there are times you just need to put your foot down and tell them these are the hours, these are the rules. There are far worse things an employer could do than make an employee take a break. If that is all they have to complain about, you are lucky.
            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.


            • #7
              Thanks to Both PattyMD & EllenMD for your help.

              FYI, we do work for WVU or Marshall.

              Thanks, I will set the policy at 6.0 hrs- MUST take half hour lunch...
              5.999 hrs - No lunch break necessary.

              Thanks again,


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