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Soulsurfer  
#1 Posted : Tuesday, March 23, 2010 2:17:56 AM(UTC)
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Does anyone know what the law/rule is on federal employees being allowed to take their 2 *15 minute breaks. These breaks do not include lunch. 
 
Thanx
New14  
#2 Posted : Tuesday, March 23, 2010 2:50:35 AM(UTC)
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Federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks. However, when
employers do offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5 to 20
minutes), federal law considers the breaks as compensable work hours
that would be included in the sum of hours worked during the work week
and considered in determining if overtime was worked. Unauthorized
extensions of authorized work breaks need not be counted as hours
worked when the employer has expressly and unambiguously communicated
to the employee that the authorized break may only last for a specific
length of time, that any extension of the break is contrary to the employer's rules, and any extension of the break will be punished.

Bona fide meal periods (typically lasting at least 30 minutes),
serve a different purpose than coffee or snack breaks and, thus, are not work time and are not compensable.


samac59  
#3 Posted : Tuesday, March 23, 2010 3:56:54 AM(UTC)
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There are a few states that have laws that  require employees be given a paid break . http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/rest.htm
the rock99  
#4 Posted : Tuesday, March 23, 2010 5:18:14 AM(UTC)
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this could also be a contractual matter if you are a union represented employee.
New14  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, March 23, 2010 5:22:35 AM(UTC)
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Knight  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, March 24, 2010 6:23:50 AM(UTC)
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Breaks are usually given and will be 15 min in length, one in the morning (or first part of the shift) but not at the beginning (aka coming in 15 min late) and not inconjunction with lunch (or whatever meal is the shift meal) and one in the afternoon (or second part of shift) and not in conjunction with lunch or leaving early.
 
Sometimes this is in an agency/office policy or even in the union contract.
bmj2  
#7 Posted : Wednesday, March 24, 2010 11:20:21 AM(UTC)
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What's a break?  What's a bona fide meal period?  Nevermind, I know the school solution, yet this is an area where current federal law and policies are way outdated.  Obviously there are jobs where this type structure is still applicable, but there are also thousands of jobs where no one even attempts to follow this structure.  A break is that two minutes I take to hit the head while running between Fred's planning meeting and the colonel's staff meeting.  Lunch is coke and crackers while catching up on the email I didn't read because I was in the meetings.  Overtime doesn't exist, you just stay until the job is done.  In exchange for all this, if you need to leave early one day, or come in late, then do so because the balance favors the government.   Instead of being driven by the clock, the T&A rules should be adjusted to match the new reality.  Product and output should be the metrics, not hours on the clock.
 
The reason I say this, is the only ones who seem to be bothered by this are usually the lower grades who get breaks, who get lunches, and who don't put in free OT.  Kind of reminds  me of my daughter who was in the advanced program in school.  The other kids complained because she got to do extra projects, more homework, more book reports.  Her reply "Oh yeah, I'm lucky.  I GET to do extra work.  Some privilege."
The HalfBreed  
#8 Posted : Wednesday, March 24, 2010 12:37:57 PM(UTC)
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Generally speaking, the Dept. of Labor allows 5- 20 min breaks when working an 8 hr day.
If an employee works 8½ hour days, 30 min is normally considered UNpaid, and there is the 30 min unpaid lunch.

As a Union rep, back in about 1989, I had this argument with management after I filed a grievance in behalf of another employee. Their take was that, since we don't get a 30 min unpaid meal time, we were not allowed breaks. I did some digging, and found out that, Yes indeed, two 15 min breaks WERE allowed in our agency. Further detective work (and my common knowledge) discovered that, Managers were taking 1 hour lunch breaks. After discovery, I found out that they indeed, were combining their two 15 min breaks into their 30 min unpaid lunch break and left the office for one hour. I found regulations that DIS-allowed the combining of their breaks with Lunchtime, Start time and End of day.

Since then, two 15 min breaks ARE allowed. The key is to find anyone in your office that takes 1 hour lunches. Then TAG that person, even if it's a manager, who SHOULD know right or wrong.
Generally speaking, anyone that works an 8 hour day is entitled to two breaks, normally 10-15 min.
When I filed that grievance and threatened the entire office (500+ people), they kind of left the topic alone. 

It's been 21-22 years with no issues.

RETIRED 12/19/2012 !!! Good Bye Tension !!! Hello Pension !!!
1DCfed  
#9 Posted : Wednesday, March 24, 2010 1:04:28 PM(UTC)
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bmj2 wrote:
What's a break?  What's a bona fide meal period?  Nevermind, I know the school solution, yet this is an area where current federal law and policies are way outdated.  Obviously there are jobs where this type structure is still applicable, but there are also thousands of jobs where no one even attempts to follow this structure.  A break is that two minutes I take to hit the head while running between Fred's planning meeting and the colonel's staff meeting.  Lunch is coke and crackers while catching up on the email I didn't read because I was in the meetings.  Overtime doesn't exist, you just stay until the job is done.  In exchange for all this, if you need to leave early one day, or come in late, then do so because the balance favors the government.   Instead of being driven by the clock, the T&A rules should be adjusted to match the new reality.  Product and output should be the metrics, not hours on the clock.
 
The reason I say this, is the only ones who seem to be bothered by this are usually the lower grades who get breaks, who get lunches, and who don't put in free OT.  Kind of reminds  me of my daughter who was in the advanced program in school.  The other kids complained because she got to do extra projects, more homework, more book reports.  Her reply "Oh yeah, I'm lucky.  I GET to do extra work.  Some privilege."


Amen.
daves  
#10 Posted : Wednesday, March 24, 2010 1:44:22 PM(UTC)
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New14 wrote:
samac59 wrote:
There are a few states that have laws that  require employees be given a paid break . http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/rest.htm


Read the top of the table you quoted:

Table of Minimum Paid Rest Period Requirements Under State Law for Adult Employees in Private Sector



 


 
Many agency personnel policy manuals have language similar to 'follow local and state labor laws', and union contracts would also spell it out.
 
But more importantly: why should any supervisor or manager to be so anal retentive and dictatorial as to make an issue of it?  Very few jobs in government have such a strict pace or requirements that time for reasonable breaks cannot be found.  Any manager that cannot trust his own team to set their own work patterns has no business being a manager.    
daves  
#11 Posted : Wednesday, March 24, 2010 2:10:53 PM(UTC)
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bmj2 wrote:
What's a break?  What's a bona fide meal period?  Nevermind, I know the school solution, yet this is an area where current federal law and policies are way outdated.  Obviously there are jobs where this type structure is still applicable, but there are also thousands of jobs where no one even attempts to follow this structure. ... 
...The reason I say this, is the only ones who seem to be bothered by this are usually the lower grades who get breaks, who get lunches, and who don't put in free OT.  Kind of reminds  me of my daughter who was in the advanced program in school.  The other kids complained because she got to do extra projects, more homework, more book reports.  Her reply "Oh yeah, I'm lucky.  I GET to do extra work.  Some privilege."
 
I must have been fortunate to always have managers who allowed their people to arrange their own work patterns (some limits) and considered flex time as a valuable tool and not a fringe benefit.  14 hour days to meet a deadline was balanced by time off later.  Lunch was whenever it was convenient to eat and if you needed a break you took one.  Over all, most employees put in well over 80 hours per pay period without complaining.  Almost no one cheated their timesheet.  Was it all 'legal' by a strict interpretation of the labor laws?  I don't know and didn't care.  We thought it was a good arrangement and were happy with the flexibility our managers allowed us.  It must have been OK because our unit consistently got high marks for exceeding targets and ending the FY under budget.   
 
The guys that insisted on waiting until the stroke of 8:00 to walk in the door, left at exactly 4:30 on the dot, and demanded their lunch break at 12:00 to 12:30 regardless of the task being done at the moment somehow did not last very long.  They usually got passed over for promotions and choice assignments and quit their jobs, complaining about 'management unfairness' as they left. 
bmj2  
#12 Posted : Wednesday, March 24, 2010 10:00:43 PM(UTC)
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Daves, we are in complete agreement and I think you said it better than I did.    Yep, it's not in strict compliance with the rules, but we get the mission done.  And like you said, the ones who watch the clock seem to be the most unhappy.  Most offices I've been in couldn't stand the drop in productivity if they went to strict time accounting -- they would lose all the free work they're getting now.
Oh, and I'm sure there's someone out there who will wonder about the time of day I posted this -- I'm off today burning use-lose I carried over from last year and have to get off the books.
Soulsurfer  
#13 Posted : Thursday, March 25, 2010 3:58:36 AM(UTC)
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thanks you guys for your valuable input an responses. I am in total agreement with you Daves and BMJ2. I have the same philosophy about work. You put in your hours, get the job done and that's that. I had a boss (GS14 and 15) who said, come in when you want, put in your 8 hours, but most importantly I need to have the job complete and need questions answered. Can't get fairer than that. And at the time I was a GS-9. Sure I have worked OT for nothing in the past, but now I am at a point (working for a supervisor) who wants (for example) leave to be taken if you walk into the office 3 minnutes late in the morning or after lunch. Take 15 minutes of leave here, take fifteen minutes of leave there. It's a total joke. I, in turn, responded by saying where's my fifteen minute break if you enforce such policy. Morale is not low, but downright down. And management condones these actions because no one stands up and does what's right. It's a total judgement call. The funny thing is, management"follows" policy, but when it comes to them, they do what they wish.

Soulsurfer
Knight  
#14 Posted : Friday, March 26, 2010 6:04:37 AM(UTC)
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Are you on a flex schedule? If so you can come in between a certain time (7-9 for us) and work 8 hours from there. it is in our contract, it might be in yours.
MT principessa  
#15 Posted : Friday, March 26, 2010 10:12:14 AM(UTC)
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At our installation, the WG's get two 15 minute breaks, one in the morning about 9:30 and the other about 2:00.  Lunch is 1 hour for everyone.  While the GS's don't get breaks our manager tells us to get up about every hour from our desks and "stretch".  We can eat and drink at our desks, go to the snack machine or soda machine whenever we want.  The WG's are on a "set" schedule.  My DH works for our tenant command and they have bells like school that go off at the start of shift, at break, at lunch (he gets 30 minutes), at the end of lunch and at the beginning and end of both breaks.  It's kind of funny to hear the bells....our WG's stop what they are doing at exactly 9:30 and at 2:00, same with lunch hour. 
 
Actually, when my co workers and I go out to lunch we see alot of GS12, 13's staying longer than their "lunch" hour..... Since we are at the bottom of the food chain we just laugh it off.  Who is going to tell a GS13 master degree engineer that "lunch is over"?  Not me.  However, it irritates the crap out of the WG's when they see it.  There is no such thing as a union for GS's at our installation....I say GS's as of May 9 we will be.  If we are working on a project...and need to stay over, we get to choose, comp time or overtime.  I take the comp time because I relish time off every now and then.
 
My supervisor came up through the ranks over the years and never begrudges us time away from our desks....now if we are goofing off...something will be said.
bmj2  
#16 Posted : Friday, March 26, 2010 10:56:40 AM(UTC)
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MT, if your engineers are anything like ours, lunch hour, or any other time for that matter, that two or more engineers get to the same table, quickly devolves into an project meeting. (Hint:  Never take an engineer to a movie -- he'll begin by explaining how a bus couldn't do that and then get into an argument with the Mythbusters.)  Actually, if the craft workforce sees a gaggle of engineers hanging late after lunch and they see a pen come out, they better lock the doors, because probably about 1415, someone is going to drop a napkin with a drawing, some chicken scratching, and a couple of ketchup blobs on them to machine up by morning.
Soulsurfer  
#17 Posted : Tuesday, March 30, 2010 1:27:07 AM(UTC)
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Knight,
 
No , I am not on a flex schedule. I was in Korea and management offered 2 15 minute breaks.
jake.valentine  
#18 Posted : Wednesday, March 31, 2010 5:39:43 AM(UTC)
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I have been treated like a big boy in every career position I have held since college. As long as you are ensuring ongoing completion of mission, the time or quantity of breaks is not even remotely important. A good team of people with a true leader (very, very rare) for a supervisor (rather than a resource managment type) makes for succesfull completion of mission. If we finish our taskers early, give your people an EO (early out). Mission ramp up requires the team to stay after hours? ......don't ask for OT and just get the job done. If

Soulsurfer  
#19 Posted : Wednesday, March 31, 2010 6:06:40 AM(UTC)
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You and I are in agreement.
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