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Should you get paid for working during your lunch break?

Although Missouri does not require employers to provide lunch breaks to employees, yours does, and taking that half hour off the clock to sit down in the break room and eat your meal is a perk you appreciate. Your supervisor typically pops in with questions about your work, a client or some other issue, and the two of you may spend some or all of the time that you are eating in discussion. Is that fair, or even legal?

TSheets.com explains that like state law, the federal wage and hour law, the Fair Labor Standards Act, also does not require your employer to provide you with a lunch break. However, this does not mean your lunchtime belongs to your boss. If you are not on the clock, that time belongs to you. When your supervisor addresses work issues with you, that time should be paid, according to federal law, even if you do not really mind spending the time dealing with job duties. 

If you look back over the past few weeks, you may realize that spending an extra 30 minutes per day working means you have worked 42.5 hours each week. That 2.5 hours should be compensated, not by your regular hourly pay, but with overtime pay of 1.5 times the normal rate. So, if your regular rate, for example, is $12 per hour, you are not missing $30 each week from your paycheck. The compensation you should receive is $45 each week - $180 per month.

While your supervisor can certainly continue to discuss work with you over lunch every day if that is how he or she wants to conduct business, you should get to remain on the clock while you engage in work activities. There are nuances to the wage and hour laws, so although this example may be helpful in gaining an understanding of lunch breaks on and off the clock, it should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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