If taking a 30 minute break is not possible due to store regulations, can my employer deduct time I was on the clock for?

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If taking a 30 minute break is not possible due to store regulations, can my employer deduct time I was on the clock for?

My job has a rule that if only 2 people are on the clock working, taking a break is not needed and should not be taken unless/until a third employee is put on the clock. Three employees had been on the clock from 4 to 7:30 but due to how busy we were, breaks weren’t an option. From 7:30 to 10, our closing time plus the time it takes cleaning the store, were only two employees. My employer knew well of the situation yet still deducted 30 minutes. Is this legal?

Asked on June 24, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you did not actually receive a break, and if you were actually working during the 30 minutes that you might otherwise have had a break, then no--the employer may not deduct time. An hourly employee must be paid for ALL time that he or she works, whether it's during shift, before shift, after shift, or during time that could or should have been a break--if the employee is working, then he or she must be paid. Therefore, it appears that your employer may owe you 30 minutes of wages, and if this is something which happens frequently or regularly, then you wish to consider contacting either the department of labor or consulting with an employment attorney, since you may have a wage claim. Good luck.


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