Do employees HAVE to take a 1/2 hr break after 7.5 hours of work, or do we just have to allow them to. Is it their choice or do we have to force them to break?We have a lot of employees who don't want to take a break to get done early. I have called the state of Illinois on this and they read the information to me which is as clear as mud. They cant tell me either. Any input?
I'm so glad the state was able to clear that up for you! Helpful, aren't they? I'm going to be even less helpful. Here's what the Department of Labor says:
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 work-time that must be paid...
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.
So, it looks like you are safe on a Federal side. On an Illinois side, I have no idea either. You could spend money consulting a labor and employment lawyer, who will charge you a lot to say that the law is ambiguous.
Here is what I (a non Illinois resident, non attorney) would do. Make it clear that everyone who wants to take a 30 minute lunch can. If they prefer to work straight through, that's fine and they can leave 30 minutes early. But, don't reward people for not taking the lunch. (No, "Gee, look at Bob. He gets so much done that he doesn't need a break!") I would also provide a twenty minute paid break as well.
That's what I would do, anyway. But if the government shows up at your doorstep I don't know you and I don't know where you got such a foolish idea.