Employees, whether full-time or part-time, need to take breaks during their work hours. As a manager or business owner, you have some discretion in when those rest periods are allowed. More importantly, you want to make sure you comply with Massachusetts break laws.
The state provides strict protections for employees receiving meal breaks. You want to be fair to employees without disrupting the work environment. After all, your business has daily production goals and long-term objectives that require solid workers.
Nevertheless, complying with employment laws are just as important as following company policy. These employee meal break protections also come with harsh penalties for employers who fail to adjust work schedules in accordance with Massachusetts break laws.
Legal Requirements for Break Laws in Massachusetts
Massachusetts’ law requires employers to provide a 30-minute meal break to employees who are scheduled for a shift that is more than six hours. The half-hour meal break is unpaid.
Although most employers in the state schedule one or two breaks during work days, the law does not stipulate that rest breaks are required.
Studies have shown that many employees take breaks, but often eat at their desks. Others may not take lunch breaks. Both practices can be hazardous, not only to employees but also to your business.
Breaks are important for various reasons. Setting aside time for employees to refresh themselves throughout the work day is good for business. The key is to balance managing scheduled break times with business needs without violating state laws.
Why Employee Breaks are Good for Business
Giving employees break times is a good practice even if Massachusetts legislators did not pass a law. Here are a few reasons to appreciate allowing employees to have some time away from their work responsibilities.
- Productivity increases. Generally, employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who work nonstop. Returns are reduced whenever the brain continuously exerts pressure during an eight-hour work shift.So while it may seem you are getting a full day’s work for a full day’s pay, your productivity numbers may not reflect the same. Give your employees a break and they will return geared up to work. This rejuvenation prepares them to significantly boost their performance level.Increased productivity proves to be a win-win situation for your business, clients and employees. They will more accurately complete tasks with fewer errors.
- Stress decreases. Overloading the mind with too much data or work activities may work for a brief period, but can ultimately lead to stress. Employees who regularly skip meal breaks may also show signs of fatigue. The result is a loss of zeal for their job duties.Once stress builds, even a quick 10 minutes away from a particular activity can put employees back on track.
- Fewer physical ailments. Sick employees typically do not come to work. After sitting for lengthy timeframes, individuals are at a higher risk to suffer from obesity, diabetes and heart disease.Taking breaks can also help to relieve the eye strain that occurs from staring at a computer screen too long. Even simple stretching exercises can improve blood circulation. Employees may also shed unwanted pounds that could lead to chronic health conditions.
How a Time Management System Helps with Scheduling Break Times
Ensuring employees take scheduled or regular breaks can prove challenging. Managers who do not micromanage their staff may be unaware of the times employees choose to skip lunch.
Without physically checking workstations, you can equip managers with a time tracking system to schedule breaks and know who goes or stays at their desk. With the right employee scheduling system, managers can:
- Track paid and unpaid breaks for labor reporting and compliance purposes
- Edit attendance records to convert paid breaks to unpaid breaks and vice versa
- Real-time tracking to know who is on break
- Set alerts to stagger breaks to have seamless coverage
Reality may prove different on some days. Employees may forget to take a scheduled break. Managers can build reports based on scheduled work hours and breaks. They can make adjustments to break times if necessary due to workflow or project deadlines.
Scheduling Systems Take the Hassle Out of Breaks
You want to ensure employees are taken care of, so regularly scheduling breaks should be part of their work days. Short, paid breaks require staying on the clock; meal times require clocking out.
However, things can get busy and make it impossible for managers to make sure everyone takes breaks.
With just the click of a button, employees can begin and end their break times through an electronic scheduling system. Managers can set options with break types and stay compliant with Massachusetts break laws.
An automated time and attendance solution keeps schedules visible for managers. Schedule alerts tell managers if too many employees take breaks at the same time.
These features help to ensure your business not only follows compliance rules but also keeps employees refreshed and productive.