Can Your Employer Keep You “On Call” Without Paying During Lunch

Many businesses operate with a few workers, whether by necessity as a result of staffing issues or out of a desire to save expenditure. Because of this, a lot of businesses force their staff to work through their lunch breaks while eating at their desks or to be “on call” all through them.

If the employees were paid for their “working lunches,” there might not be a problem, but in most cases, they are not, and that is against the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If you are in such a situation, you should contact Sattiraju & Tharney employment lawyer. 

Is Your Employer Allowed to Keep You “On Call” During Lunch?

The days of maintaining sign-in/sign-out sheets or paper time cards are long gone. Nowadays, a lot of companies use an automated time-keeping system to simplify payroll management.

Unfortunately, even in cases where an employee fails to take their meal break, such systems immediately withhold it out of their pay. Employees who are not barred from the FLSA are entitled to pay for all of their work hours. It is not permissible for an employer to have an employee work through their lunch break or to force them to use a pager or walkie-talkie without providing payment.

When Is It Acceptable for Your Employer to Cut Off Your Break?

Employers are not allowed to force an employee to work or be available during a meal or relaxation break, according to law. It is legally equivalent for your employer to refuse you your appropriate break if they encourage you to work through your lunch or to stay available during your break.

Exceptions to the Rule

These rules do have a few exceptions. For example, in some situations, there may be “on duty” lunch periods. You could have to work through your food break if the nature of your job prevents you from being free of tasks.

The law requires that employees in such situations receive wages for such periods. Eating during work hours is allowed only if the nature of the job prohibits an employee from enjoying a break. It is essential to consult an experienced lawyer since some exemptions could be complicated.

What Happens If Your Employer Rejects Your Request for Breaks?

You have the right to bring a lawsuit if your employer refuses to offer you lunch or a break. For each break the employee is denied, the company must provide them with one hour’s wages. This means that you have a right to fair compensation if your employer refuses to give you lunch or rest breaks for the length of your job.

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