For employees who work an eight-hour day, working through lunch to leave early is a fairly common practice, but is it a good idea for employers to allow it? In doing so, the employer faces a few potential issues.
The Potential Snags
Some workers may feel that they do better when they don’t stop their work partway through the day because taking a lunch halts their momentum. Those who don’t take a break to recharge, however, often display lower productivity for the latter half of their schedule, damaging the overall efficiency of the workplace. Other potential problems include:
- Overtime compensation requirements: The Department of Labor requires that people are paid for the time they work for non-exempt jobs. If a person skips lunch and then finds that they are unable to leave as early as planned, employers have to compensate them for the extra time they work.
- Increases in the number of breaks: Employers are required to pay workers for short breaks during their scheduled work time. Those who opt to skip lunch are more inclined to take more of these breaks than they would if they took a break for lunch.
- Large numbers of employees following suit: When an allowance is made for one or a few, it is likely that the employer will begin to see an increasingly large proportion of workers the following suit.
Skipping lunch may seem like a harmless practice. Given the issues that could arise, however, it is a practice that probably is not in the best interest of either party.