Documenting meal break waivers

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Do you know what a meal break waiver is?

If you don’t, don’t feel bad. They really only apply in certain jurisdictions, like California. And I will explain, in case you’re curious.

This is how it works:

In California, as in many places, if a non-exempt employee works more than five hours in a day, they are entitled to a 30 minute unpaid meal break.

But unlike most places, if an employee in California who works over 5 hours doesn’t take a break, their company must pay them a meal break penalty, valued at 1 hour of the employee’s regular rate. This discourages employers from allowing or encouraging employees to skip breaks.

But it gets a little more complicated than that.

California law also says an employee and employer can mutually waive a break for shifts of six hours or less. This allows employees to skip breaks if their shift is fairly short, but ensures they take breaks during longer shifts (when they most need a break).

Similarly, if they’re entitled to two breaks and work 12 hours or less, employees can waive their second break, as long as they took the first one.

If they waive a break, the employee works instead of taking the break, and is paid normally for that time.

The law does not require break waivers to be recorded.

But, what if an employee claims they weren’t given breaks they were entitled to, citing all the occasions when they missed their (possibly waived) breaks? That’s why most legal folks interested in California labor law recommend that employers keep a record of break waivers.

And Replicon makes this easy!

If you assign employees the Meal Break Validation with Waiver punch validation rule, when a break violation occurs (e.g. no break was recorded during a shift of between 5 and 6 hours), the next time the employee punches in or out, they’ll be prompted to either waive or not waive the penalty (and the break).

With this rule and the appropriate pay rule assigned... Presto! You have a digital record of all breaks that were waived, accessible via reports.

If you’d like more information about how this works in Replicon, refer to Setting up meal break enforcement and waivers.
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Paula Tannahill, Technical Writer

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Posted 1 year ago

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