Best Practices, Company Culture, human resources, Uncategorized

Breaks Laws and Burnout

According to Gallup, employee burnout statistics increase the more hours an employee works each week. However, Gallup discovered flexibility and breaks are key components for contributing to employee engagement and overall well-being. Additionally, Gallup’s research discovered that proper training for managers is a crucial step that can be overlooked–employee burnout due to a lack of breaks is often a cascading problem.

As stated by the Department of Labor (DOL),  there’s no federal law mandating that an employer must provide a break of any kind to their employees. Generally speaking, federal laws are quiet on the matter of breaks but state laws can vary considerably.

How are exempt vs non-exempt employees’ breaks regulated?
Meal and rest break laws typically only apply to non-exempt employees (wage workers) under the federal FLSA.

What if I’m operating a business in multiple states?
It is important for compliance that a business examine the regulations of the states that it is being operated in. Two resources that address state laws more closely are the Poster Compliance Center and DOL listing pages.

What about remote workers?
Non-exempt, remote employees are entitled to meal breaks under federal law but are regulated on the state level similar to on-site employees (BusinessDaily, Oct 23,2023).

What are the most common, traditional breaks that employers can offer?
There are two main types outlined by the DOL:

1. Break – A rest period that lasts 5-20 minutes and requires employers to provide compensation for their employees.

2. Meal or “Off-duty break” – Classified as time away with no work tasks for at least 30 minutes and are not eligible for compensation.

What about a microbreak?
It’s a 30-60 second break that allows for the employee to physically adjust it’s positioning, stretch, and re-focus. It’s predominantly the responsibility of the employee to create a solution for building microbreaks into their routine.  Stanford Environmental Health and Safety has some great tips on how to create a work routine that builds microbreaks into the workday.

What about fringe benefits?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations, sick leave or holidays (Federal or otherwise). These benefits are a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee (or the employee’s representative).

What if traditional breaks aren’t an option?
This article published by Psychology Today suggests switching the type of task to something more creative, moving away from solitary tasks, changing where the task is completed, or simply taking some deep breaths (See Microbreaks above).

At Invo Peo, we believe people are your greatest asset and we are here to help your business navigate compliance topics like employee breaks.

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