02/22/14 By Jennifer Brown

Employee-Won't-Follow-PolicYou have a nonexempt employee who doesn’t want to take their lunch break, do you still need to pay him/her? The short answer is “yes, if they are performing any work duties at all”.

The Fair Labor Standards Act stipulates that nonexempt employees must be paid for any time that they work.

I know what you may be thinking…”but, I’m not requiring them to work and I actually want them to take a break”. It doesn’t matter — a nonexempt

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employee must be paid for any time he/she works. So now the question becomes, “how do I address this issue”? This is where a standard policy becomes so important.

■ Do you have a document that identifies your lunch break policy?
■ Does it explain what will happen if an employee does not follow the

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■ Do you have your employees sign-off on the policy?

If an employee doesn’t follow your lunch break policy, you should address it with him/her. Meet with the employee and review the policy as well as the consequences for not following it. This usually does the trick! But if it doesn’t; then you should verbally counsel the employee and, if needed, move to written warnings. Ultimately, if the employee does continue to violate your policy, termination may be required. Hopefully, though, it won’t come to this!

Keep in mind though that even if a nonexempt employee violates your policy, you still must pay him/her if he/she is doing work during the “lunch break”. Address policy violations by ensuring your employees know your policies and the consequences for not following them.

YOUR TURN: What do you do to ensure your employees know and follow your policies? Please leave your reply below.

photo credit Ambro via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jennifer Brown is the founder of PeopleTactics LLC, she is devoted to helping small business owners implement solutions to prevent Human Resources problems that drain them of their time, money, and energy. Jennifer works with small businesses in order to help them build stronger employee relationships, understand and comply with employment laws, establish policies, and set up easy-to-use HR systems to consistently avoid problems.

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