I know as a production manager that breaks can be the worst time of the day because production stops completely. Getting things going again is like starting a freight train: It takes a little time to start running and gain momentum.
be late for work and hardly ever stay past clock-out time, but are never late for breaks
and rarely return from them early. Interesting, isn't it?
As employers we need to balance the need for breaks with production demands. Finding a way to keep breaks to a reasonable time is important in this regard. Let's consider some interesting information about breaks.
Did you know there are very few federal or state labor laws concerning rest periods? Only seven states have laws regarding breaks, other than meal periods. The Web site www.ewin.com, which is a site developed for human resources personnel, lists the laws for these particular states.
In California, employees must get a 10-minute break for every four hours worked provided that the workday is at least five hours long. In Colorado, Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon and Washington employees receive 10 minutes for every four hours worked. In Minnesota, employees are allowed a "reasonable" amount of time in a four-hour period.
If you don't live in these states, does that mean you don't have to give your employees breaks? That would be ridiculous. Giving sufficient time for breaks is really a good value for the employer as well as the employee.
While breaks or rest periods are important to the employee, keeping them to the set time is important to the employer. Sometimes that's easier said than done. Usually people who work together get along well or are good friends. It is natural to enjoy the time in the break room to chat and catch up. Also, there are some people who want to use their breaks to eat lunch so they can avoid punching out for a lunch break. These situations make keeping breaks to the allotted time challenging.
Over the years we have tried different methods to keep breaks to 10 minutes. A simple approach is using an alarm clock in the break room set to go off when break is over. Another possibility is to have employees clock in and out for breaks. Any time over could be counted against them. Maybe it is only a few of your employees that are abusing break time. Just speaking directly about the problem may yield positive results.
What about time spent in the restroom or smokers? One report showed that smokers took an average of three smoking breaks a day. Do they have the same rights as the person going to the restroom in that an employer cannot stop them from smoking as they wish?