Can we buy pizza and soda to pay workers for a missed lunch break due to a heavy workload? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Can we buy pizza and soda to pay workers for a missed lunch break due to a heavy workload?

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Q. Occasionally, when we receive a big order, our nonexempt employees have to work through their lunch breaks. Although we do not pay them for this work, we buy pizzas and sodas for all the affected workers. Is this lawful?

A. No. If nonexempt workers are required (or even allowed) to perform any job duties during their lunch breaks, they are entitled to compensation for the entire period. If nonexempt employees work during their lunch breaks, including attending a meeting, they are entitled to pay—even if the employer provides lunch.

These types of mistakes can be extremely expensive, resulting in judgment and settlements in the millions of dollars. That’s why many employers prohibit workers from remaining in their work areas while on break—thereby avoiding any question as to whether they were working.

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