If it is not written down, did it happen?
An all too common issue we see in working with businesses is a lack of diligence in requiring hourly employees to fully document their time. Most do a good job of requiring their employees to document when they first get to work and when they leave. However, employers must also be diligent in requiring employees to document the time they take for lunch.
Pursuant to KRS 337.355 employers are required to grant their employees a “reasonable period for lunch.” In practice this usually means the grant of an employee between 30 minutes and an hour for lunch. If the employee is free of his or her employment responsibilities during that period, that time generally does not have to be paid. In many instances an employer may just assume that their employees are taking their allotted lunch time, but if the hourly employees do not record that they are in fact taking lunch this could lead to problems.
When problems develop it is typically a disgruntled or newly terminated employee who will claim that he/she did not take their lunch and were required to work through it. The claim is then that the employee was not in full paid for time worked, and the unpaid time would in many instances qualify as overtime. If the employer did not require the employee to record that they were in fact taking their lunch break, then it many times becomes a war of words between the employer and employee as to whether such time was taken. If a claim is made with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, the Cabinet in many instances will give the employee the benefit of the doubt as to such issues and defending such a claim becomes an uphill battle. Thus, the moral is to be sure that hourly employees do in fact record their time on a daily basis accurately, including time taken for lunch. Otherwise, an employer risks having to waste time and resources fighting a claim without possession of what would be the best supporting evidence of its position.
This article is intended as a summary of newly enacted federal law and does not constitute legal advice.