Q. Our employees punch a time clock and then go to job sites. Sometimes they don’t take a lunch break. But when they do, they’re unable to clock out and back in, so there’s no time record. Can a manager adjust the timecard by marking through the daily total and deducting the lunch time?
A. If a break lasts more than 20 minutes, federal law does not require employers to pay for that time. However, short breaks of five to 20 minutes should be compensated.
You can choose various options in recording meal breaks. You may manually adjust timecards to reflect that an employee took a lunch break. However, you must ensure that the employee was completely relieved from duty and did in fact take the break. If the employee worked part of the lunch break or was not completely relieved from duty, then you must compensate the employee for that break.
This may sometimes require paying overtime, if the employee worked more than 40 hours in that week.
To ensure that breaks are properly recorded, the manager should have employees sign off on the adjustments on a weekly basis. This will allow the employee to inform the manager of any mistakes.