If my employer makes employees clock out for cigarette breaks, is this legal?

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If my employer makes employees clock out for cigarette breaks, is this legal?

My employer makes employees clock out for cigarette breaks but it’s only certain employees. There are many hourly employees who can just go out as they please without having to clock out. I thought nothing of this until recently when I was reading up on some labor laws and read that state law requires all breaks under 20 minutes to be paid. A cigarette break is usually no more than a few minutes, never close to 20. So of course my question is, is this legal for them to do? And if it’s not, what can we do about it? And if this is legal, just some clarification as to why it is.

Asked on August 5, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

From what you have written, if an employee takes cigarette breaks beyond the normal allowable breaks that an employee is entitled to under the law, such is perfectly legal. The rationale is that that the employer should not be required to pay for off time of an employee who is not working for him or her.

If the cigarette break is part of your entitled breaks by law, you are entitled to get paid for such.


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