Can Employers Automatically Deduct Breaks From a Paycheck?

Posted on behalf of Gordon & Partners on Sep 02, 2020 in Employment Law

automatically deducting breaksIf you are an hourly employee in Florida, you may be wondering whether its is legal for your employer to automatically deduct breaks from your paycheck. The short answer is yes, but there are certain limitations under federal law that makes this practice unlawful.

Our West Palm Beach employment lawyers are prepared to hold employers accountable when they violate the rights of their employees. An initial consultation is completely free and confidential. You are under no obligation to hire our firm after this meeting, but if you do, you pay us nothing up front.

Federal Law on Getting Paid for Breaks

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to provide meal or extended rest breaks. However, when employers do offer short breaks, typically lasting about five to 20 minutes, federal law considers these breaks as work hours that you should be paid for.

Additionally, these breaks need to be considered when an employer is calculating whether an employee is due overtime pay. Any breaks under 20 minutes are compensable.  

Lunch or other meal breaks typically lasting at least 30 minutes are not considered work time. Employees are then ineligible to be paid for their meal break.

Meal Breaks for Florida Employees

Some states have laws that provide meal breaks. Florida, however, does not require meal breaks for adult employees. State law only requires that employers give their employees under 18 years old at least a 30 minute meal break for over four hours of continuous work.

This still means that most employers in Florida must obey federal regulations when it comes to paying employees for hours worked during meal breaks.

When Break Deductions May Violate Employee Rights

An employer can only deduct the amount of time that you actually take for the break. Taking a break means being completely relieved from duties and at rest. Under the FLSA, it is not considered a break if you are still required to perform any duties, whether active or inactive, while eating.

For instance, if you are eating lunch at your desk but are still required to answer phone calls or emails, you are not considered completely relieved from duty and must be paid for that time.

It is also illegal under the law for an employer to lump together two 15-minutes breaks taken at different times during the day and then deduct 30 minutes from your paycheck for taking those two breaks.

It is important to note that an automatic deduction is not necessarily unlawful, but it could potentially lead to an employer failing to pay an employee for all the hours that he or she worked.  

Get Legal Advice From Our Firm Today

If you believe that your employer has violated federal law by automatically deducting a break you are not taking or deducting more time than the break taken, you may be eligible for unpaid wages and other monetary compensation. Our legal team is standing by to take your call or chat online 24/7.

There is no risk in calling us to answer any questions you may have, no obligation to move forward after your free consultation, and no upfront fees to utilize our services unless we help you obtain a recovery.

For a FREE, no-obligation review of your claim, call us at 1 (855) 722-2552 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form to reach us online

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