Automatic Deductions for Meal Periods Are Not Permitted

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An increasing number of wage and hour lawsuits and administrative wage claims before the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement include claims based upon the automatic deduction of meal periods. In many instances, employees do not actually clock out and in for lunch. As a result, the time records do not properly and accurately reflect a that a meal period was taken, how long the meal lasted, or the actual hours worked. Instead, the time authorized to be taken is automatically deducted from the time recorded on the assumption that the employee took the scheduled meal period each day.

The automatic deductions for a 30 minute or more meal period is not permitted under California law and doing so will likely result in substantial liability because the company cannot disprove an employee’s allegation that they were denied a duty free meal period of not less than 30 minutes in duration.

What Should You Do?

  • Ensure that employees clock out-and-in for the time taken for a meal period.
  • Maintain full and complete time records of any time worked.