Employees must be paid for automatic meal deductions if they are missed or interrupted.
There is nothing inherently wrong with an employer that uses an automatic meal deduction for its employees. Meal breaks are a great way for employers to allow their employees to take time away from their work and increase productivity when employees may otherwise experience fatigue. However, automatic meal deductions can result in litigation where the employer is not careful.
Many employers have payroll policies where they make an automatic deduction of a certain length of time (generally 0.5 hours) when their employees work shifts greater than a certain length of time. The deduction is designed to cover the length of time an employee would ideally receive a meal break.
There are many potential pitfalls with automatic meal deductions that may lead to litigation, including but not limited to when employees are unable to take the meal break entirely or when employees meal breaks are interrupted to perform work duties. In instances where employees do not get their automatically deducted meal break or their meal break is interrupted, the employer must have a procedure in place so that the employees can notify the employer that they did not receive the full meal break so the employees are properly compensated.
The nonpayment of automatically deducted meal breaks may result in violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Ohio Minimum Wage Fair Standards Act. Employees may be entitled to their unpaid wages for up to three years plus an equal amount of liquidated damages and attorney’s fees.
If you work for an employer that is making automatic meal deductions, making other deductions from your compensable time, or otherwise requiring you to work off-the-clock, then you should speak with an Ohio overtime attorney. Our office is happy to speak with you about any issues with your compensation, including unpaid overtime wages, failure to pay minimum wages, failure to timely pay wages, automatic meal deductions, or working off-the-clock. Call our office today at 1-614-949-1181 for a FREE consultation with our Ohio employment Attorney.