Workers have extensive protections in the workplace that you as an employer must recognize unless you want to face legal action.
Under federal law, for example, workers may have the ability to take medical and family leave, to have a workplace free of discrimination and harassment, and have the right to fair pay protected by the state’s wage and hour laws.
A lot of times, workers act on these rights, which puts your business’s reputation and its finances on line.
On this week’s blog, we want to take a closer look at the breaks that workers should be afforded and what to do if you are accused of violating state statutes pertaining to these breaks.
Kentucky’s law on rest and meal breaks
State law dictates employer’s obligations when it comes to providing rest and meal breaks. Under those laws, a worker should be granted a “reasonable period for lunch.” This standard may seem somewhat subjective, but it’s oftentimes interpreted to mean that workers should be granted at least 30 minutes for a meal break.
These breaks are unpaid, but if you ask your employee to work through a meal break, then they should be compensated for it.
State law also provides for rest breaks. Here, the law requires employers to provide 10-minute breaks for every four hours of work. This 10-minute break is compensated, so workers should be allowed to take it without their pay taking a hit.
What if you’re accused of violating statutorily protected breaks?
If a worker claims that he or she is denied meal or rest breaks, then they have a couple of options. First, they could file a complaint with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, which may result in penalties being levied against your business for its failure to abide by applicable labor laws.
Their second option is to take legal action against you. Here, your employee might be able to recover compensation that they lost out on by being denied breaks, and they might be able to recover other damages.
These losses might rock your financial stability and your reputation, and it may lead to subsequent lawsuits filed by other employees who feel like they’ve been wronged.
Building your defense
Of course, you’re going to need to defend yourself against legal action taken against your business. To generate and gather this evidence, you should keep track of breaks that you provide to your workers and retain communications that you have with your employer about those breaks, especially if your worker has indicated at some time that they’re wanting to forego their meal breaks.
It might also be helpful to talk about these breaks with your employees and your supervisors regularly so that everyone understands the expectations and obligations in providing them.
Do you need help defending your business?
Some labor laws, like those pertaining to meal and rest breaks, may seem straightforward, but they’re rarely as simple as they seem. There are legal nuances to almost every case, any one of which can threaten to derail your case and leave your business at risk.
To best protect your interests, you may want to consider working closely with an experienced employment law professional. By doing so, you may better position yourself for a successful outcome, which means defending your business, your business interests, and your long-term financial stability.