Managing Meals and Breaks with Time and Attendance Software

Most businesses focus on taking care of their people in a number of ways, from offering competitive wages, to providing perks and benefits, to building a workplace culture where people feel supported. One way people can feel supported is knowing that they can look forward to a couple of breaks during their shift.

Managing Breaks and Meals in a Legally Compliant Way

The way that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) views breaks and compensation differs, depending on the type of break it is. Referred to as “rest and meal periods” on the FLSA’s fact sheet #22:

  • Rest periods and short breaks typically last between 5 – 20 minutes, and are included in the total number of hours an employee works during the workweek. In most businesses, employees are paid during these breaks, unless the employer has specifically communicated rules around them.
  • On the other hand, meal periods typically last 30 minutes or longer, and are not counted as work time according to the FLSA. Employers do not need to compensate their employees for meal breaks under the FLSA. However, some offer paid meal breaks as a perk.

Which Companies Need to Worry About Managing Meals and Breaks?

Clocking in/out for breaks and meals is not an issue for some companies, organizations, or even certain employee groups.

Many salaried employees do not need to clock in or out to signify a break or a meal, whether their base salary includes a paid lunch or not. If they do, it may be to assist managers in tracking breaks in order to stagger schedules, and to make sure the worksite isn’t completely empty between noon and 1 p.m. every day.

If your team includes a mix of salaried and hourly workers, or made up exclusively of hourly employees, it’s important keep breaks and meal periods in mind when you’re scheduling, or forecasting overtime during a pay period.

But when things get busy, or schedules shift around because of illness or vacations, making sure your employees clock in and out when they should can be difficult. This can inadvertently lead to time theft.

Has time theft become an issue at your company? Maybe there’s an issue with the way you’re tracking time. Take our interactive Time Theft Test to quiz your knowledge on time & attendance, explore the latest industry data, and more.

Take the Time Theft Quiz

Managing Meals and Breaks is Crucial to Preventing Time Theft

No business owner or manager wants to worry about time theft, whether it’s happening by accident or intentionally. As it turns out, the vast majority of companies—as many as 75%—are having time “stolen” from under their noses, according to this American Payroll Association (APA) study.

Shrugging off time theft is not going to make it stop.

What would it mean for your business if the 30-minute lunch break were to become a 45-minute lunch break for your hourly employees, yet these employees continued to claim they were only taking 30 minutes? How much money would you lose in a pay period, or across a year? 

With an advanced time & attendance solution, you don’t have to worry about answering this question. In fact, your company can dramatically reduce the number of missed clock punches before you find yourself on this slippery slope:

  • Breaks and lunches are easy to monitor and track. Employees are able to clock-in/clock-out from anywhere, whether they’re working remotely, logging in to a designated kiosk or POS system, or even calling in.
  • Using the administrator’s dashboard, you can see who is clocked in/out, and when. The system captures and communicates this information in real time.
  • As a manager, you can also pre-program the system by timing schedules for meals and breaks.
  • And you can also set icons to pop up on screen to alert you when it’s time for an employee’s break.

With the right features and support from a time & attendance provider, you’ll have an easier time tracking breaks and meal periods, creating schedules, and making sure your employees maximize their time on the clock.

Find out if the costs of curtailing time theft are less than what your business is losing to time theft right now. Give us a call today, and find out how stratustime can help solve your time & attendance needs.

Contact a Time & Attendance Expert

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