#1  
Unread 04-03-2006, 06:19 AM
dburns75
 
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Default Liability when EE leaves for lunch

I work in a manufacturing plant where we give EEs 30 minutes for lunch and they are allowed to leave the premises (per Nebraska state law)without clocking out. Our time clock system automatically deducts 30 minutes per day from their time for their lunch. My question is are we accepting liability for actions by our employees while they are at lunch and off the premises if we do not require them to actually clock out.

Thanks,
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  #2  
Unread 04-03-2006, 07:28 AM
HRinNH
 
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Default RE: Liability when EE leaves for lunch

Most insurances cover employees while they're on the clock. We have our ees clock out if they're going to leave the premises for their lunch break but if they are not leaving, they don't have to clock out.

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  #3  
Unread 04-03-2006, 07:38 AM
pork1
 
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Default RE: Liability when EE leaves for lunch

[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 04-03-06 AT 01:07PM (CST)[/font][br][br][font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 04-03-06 AT 12:46*PM (CST)[/font]

DBURNS: Welcome to the forum, I hope we will be able to satisfy your need for answers. Our system calls for the employee to clock out if they are going to leave the work site. If not they are on a personal rest/meal period which we will physically count and reduce the total hours worked during the work week. Same as yours, but we do it manually.

Now, it is the "automatic word" that would give me concern, for if there is a complaint by an EE that he/she did not get his/her full thiry minute meal break because someone or something caused the employee to get up from the break area and get back to work. When that happens the meal/rest break must be restarted because the employee's unpaid break was interrupted by the company's work requirement.

Most likely you will never hear about this until an unhappy ee decides to whip out "a wage and hour complaint" guess what! Your records will show the "automatic" nature of your system, but the ee will have a daily, month, week, hourly and other supporting evidence documentation to present in his/her claim. Your company will have supporting evidence that "we always, automatically, take out for the thirty minute rest period, thus allowing the claimant's documents to prove his/her case that the company failed to give me "my 30 minute rest/meal break on this day and this time for the last 7 years".

Bottom line is: you must be able to have supervisors and managers aware of the Federal Law and how it operates. When we the company call someone physically back to the manufacturing line during any minute of a designed rest/meal break we must restart the 30 minute meal/rest break for one more 30 or hourly meal break. You can not force anyone to eat, but you must absolutely allow the ee a rest/meal break with/out pay. This time is the ee's and can not be interrupted by the company with out cost. Even if your company uses a whisle or horn or bell to alert the ees it is time to move back to their work site, it shall not alarm until the end of the designated rest/meal break be it 30 minutes or one hour or 2 hours. It is alright to recall an ee off of the unpaid break, but you must then give them credit for that portion of the meal/rest break that was interrupted. Even if it was 29.75 minutes and a recall was announced, guess what the company owes the ee for that portion of the break that was interrupted. An automatic taking of the meal/rest break time will violate the Federal Law every time. Supervisors must be on their toes for you will never know about the actual events on the production line and someone may be building a nice hole for the company to fall in!

I forgot to write about the insurance and risk; if off of the work place and on an uninterrupted rest/meal break and an accident happens their personal insurance should prevail; however, suppose one gets a "cell phone call" which alerts me to a recall before the meal/rest break is finished, then the attorney will stretch to pull in the company into the suite for the "deeper pockets", to say you were on company time and rushing back to the plant for the re-call would open the door to some risk and liability.

PORK
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  #4  
Unread 04-03-2006, 04:01 PM
HRCalico
 
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Default RE: Liability when EE leaves for lunch

Hello, dburns, and welcome to the forum! It's always nice to have another member of our fine state on board. :>)

Pork makes some excellent points. We have all our employees clock out for lunch, and our time clock is set to deduct 30 minutes no matter how long the employee is clocked out. I have raised that concern - that employees are not being paid for all the time they are working, and management has chosen to not deal with it. I have therefore chosen bigger fish to fry (I have far more problems with employees taking longer than 30 minutes).

Regarding your liability (and your actual question), I think NH is right - chances are your w/c and/or liability insurance would say no way and it would be the personal insurance covering any situations. You might have a long battle on your hands to get there, though.
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  #5  
Unread 04-04-2006, 02:47 AM
hrdir03nafcu
 
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Default RE: Liability when EE leaves for lunch

dburns,

Is the meaning of the NE state law you cite to require that EEs remain on the clock for their 30 min lunch break? Or does it simply require that, while EEs are on lunch break, they be allowed to leave your premises?

If its just the latter, I would suggest following the practices cited by the previous posts: i.e., having your EEs actually clock out for their 30 min lunch break, and clock back in when they return from lunch. This would have the added benefit of helping to control EE's abuse of the lunch period.

I'm neither an atty, nor an insurance claims person, but (having dealt with both of the just-referenced species) I would think that if an EE is considered to be on your clock (i.e., the ER liable for their actions) by the courts, then
the same would also apply for your insurance, and you would be covered by your w/c + liability policies for any mishaps.

It sounds as though you maybe have some concerns about the behavior of specific individuals here?

Good luck!
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  #6  
Unread 04-04-2006, 03:08 AM
dburns75
 
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Default RE: Liability when EE leaves for lunch

The law requires that we not only give the 30 minute lunch break, but that we not require the employees to remain in the building or on the property. Don't have concerns about any specific employee, just the same general concerns that you express and we are currently reviewing our practices.
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  #7  
Unread 04-04-2006, 03:12 AM
dburns75
 
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Default RE: Liability when EE leaves for lunch

I agree absolutely with the "automatic" provision of this. In fact I recently learned that we had a couple of supervisors that were having "voluntary" meetings during lunch in which they were buying lunch for the employees, assuming that was all that was needed. I explaind that they must pay employees for all time worked, meaning that the lunch periods when the employee is meeting is considered work time and threrefore must be paid.
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  #8  
Unread 04-04-2006, 03:12 AM
dburns75
 
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Default RE: Liability when EE leaves for lunch

Thanks for the info.
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  #9  
Unread 04-05-2006, 03:13 AM
hrdir03nafcu
 
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Default RE: Liability when EE leaves for lunch

Well, since the law does not require that EEs remain on the clock during the required lunch break, then if I were in your position, I would start requiring EEs to clock out for the lunch break, and clock back in when they return to work.

They'll probably gripe + grumble about it, but it would solve a number of problems.

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