In modern times, most employers use an electronic time clock or employee time-tracking program. Many employers who utilize time tracking software auto deduct lunch breaks from employees’ hours worked. For instance, if you are scheduled for an 9 hour shift, a 30 minute lunch break is automatically deducted, leaving you 8 ½ hours of pay. This is true regardless of whether you actually received your break or not.
Auto deductions are a common employer practice, and while not inherently illegal, they cause a problem if an employee works through their lunch hour or break. For example, what happens if a co-worker or boss interrupts an employee’s work break or mealtime?
If an employee misses a scheduled break or meal period or is otherwise interrupted or not completely relieved from their duties, they are entitled to additional compensation. If your manager or HR department does not pay you for missed or interrupted meal periods, you might be eligible to receive back wages because you are being denied payment for your work performed during your lunch period.
Employers who utilize the auto-deduct method must establish protocols to ensure that employees who miss their lunch and other breaks are properly paid. If this is not that case at your workplace, call us. We may be able to help you obtain your lost wages.