Blog
Blog
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Blog
IDOC actively shares industry-focused articles, blog posts, podcasts, videos and other thought leadership with our members and other optometric practitioners. Below, you will find links to our growing library of educational materials and multi-media assets written and created by IDOC's team of seasoned industry experts.
Amy Alvarez | 4/5/2019
MEAL PERIODS - PAID OR UNPAID? THAT IS THE QUESTION.

Sometimes, creating a policy for your practice can present more challenges than you expect.  Meal Periods tends to be one of them.  There are benefits and drawbacks to both style of meal period – Paid and Unpaid. 

Unpaid Meal Periods:

Benefits:

Employees have a break from their work day where they are relieved of all job duties, allowed to conduct their own personal business and recharge for the rest of the day. It also helps the practice control payroll and provide the coverage needed for patients.

Drawbacks:

Employees are off the clock and can not do any work practice related, leaving them unavailable to patients or other practice tasks.  Because this is the employee’s personal time, they can go off site or run errands and be delayed returning to work, causing disruptions to the schedule.

Paid Meal Periods:

Benefits:

This allows business in the office to go on uninterrupted.  Even if the office is closed for lunch, the phone can be answered and walk in patients helped because there is staff available to help them.  Staff also tend to view a paid lunch as part of their employment and that can boost morale.

Drawbacks:

Employees become expectant of those hours in their pay and makes it hard to change in the future. Plus, even when there is nothing for staff to do, the practice will continue to pay them.  Most importantly, Staff do not have a dedicated time to recharge during the day to ensure they stay energized for their whole shift and the benefit of running errands or having lunch outside of the practice is no longer available.  Once the employee is on the clock, they should not leave the practice until it is time to leave for the day. 

So which is the best for your practice?  Well, how about we start with these questions?

  1. What does your state say?

FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) does not require rest or meal periods so reviewing the state requirements is important. Although some states also have no requirements for rest and meal periods, some states are rather strict and this should inform your policy.  For example, Connecticut requires that employees who work 7.5 or more consecutive hours be given a meal period of at least 30 minutes between the first two and last two hours of their shift. 

  1. Does work need to be done during this time?

If there is still patient traffic, phone calls or other tasks that will not get completed and will put the practice behind or out of favor with patients, it is important to consider if paid lunches might be a better fit.  You want to ensure that you are setting your team up for success with the lunch period you choose.

  1. Does the practice close for lunch?

If your practice closes during lunch and there is no work to be done during that time, it may seem like your meal period speaks for itself. However, just because the practice closes, does not mean there aren’t tasks that need to be done.   

  1. Can staff go on break at the same time?

When breaks are staggered, unpaid meals become easier for the practice because there is always someone available for patients.  However, someone has to monitor that staff goes to lunch at the right time and returns on time so someone is always available.

  1. Do you need help controlling payroll?

Unpaid meal periods offer you great opportunity to control overtime expenses in your practice.  If your staff is always scheduled to 40 hours a week to provide open to close coverage, staff members will often stay over their time resulting in over time.  Unpaid lunches give a buffer of time to help drive compliance to your policies.

These questions are meant to help you reflect on the important aspects of create a policy like this. Whichever you choose, both have benefits for your practice.   However, Clarity and ease of understanding are the best for yourself and staff and should be the priority with any policy.

Amy Alvarez
Human Resources Consultant
Amy Alvarez, SHRM-CP is IDOC’s Human Resources Consultant. Amy has experience in HR in healthcare and retail, management in big box and specialty retail stores and physician recruitment. Through these roles and training, Amy is well-versed in recruitment and hiring strategies for “hard to fill” roles, dealing with low productivity, helping encourage employee engagement, on-boarding, training, day-to-day management in a retail setting, employee relations, and so much more.
Trending Blogs
 
 

10/5/2021 | Author: Ximara Vega

How often do you think about your experiences as a consumer? What comes to mind when you reflect on positive interactions? How about negative? I don’t know about you, but for me the negative experiences are much more vivid. Many of those interactions occurred with someone who was well... Read more


9/30/2021 | Author: Amy Alvarez

When I was a retail manager, this would happen to me often. An employee would tell me they didn’t complete an important assigned task, or they would call out for their shift. And I could see it from both sides. They had a lot of conflicting responsibilities that day and yet, this task would... Read more


6/23/2021 | Author: Ximara Vega

School has ended and most of the world has opened back up. Many people I know have multiple weekend getaways, road trips and vacations scheduled because they are making up for lost time. You know what that means? We are surrounded by opportunities to sell sun!!!! The only problem is not... Read more


6/14/2021 | Author: Amy Alvarez

If you are recruiting staff for your practice, you are probably experiencing hiring woes. Some are new - it is a tight job market. Not everyone is able to go back to work depending on their individual circumstances and some employers need more employees than before to meet their current... Read more


5/5/2021 | Author: Nathan Hayes

With the spike in patient demand following the COVID-19 Pandemic, many owners are actively recruiting associate ODs to help carry their increased demand. And any owner looking to hire an associate right now knows that the market is tight.

My feeling is we have an outright shortage of... Read more


3/30/2021 | Author: Geronda Wollack

Managing your staff can be challenging! Am I right? Or am I right? Now, managing your staff and feeling confident with whether you are being compliant poses a different level of challenges. I will share a story to illustrate this challenge.

I had a consult with an Office Manager who... Read more


3/30/2021 | Author: Amy Alvarez

Signed into law on March 11th, 2021, The American Rescue Plan Act offers an extension to Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This provision added additional reasons the leave can be used as well as increasing the cap on eligible compensation for a tax credit.

FFCRA... Read more


3/12/2021 | Author: Ximara Vega

What should a practice do when they have lingering product? Well, 1st we have to identify what lingering product is. In my world, lingering product includes all frames that have been sitting on the shelf for a minimum of 6 months. I like to evaluate product every quarter to identify... Read more


2/22/2021 | Author: Amy Alvarez

Maybe you’ve experienced some unpleasant events in your practice that you didn’t have a policy to cover, or you team is large enough that you vacation policy isn’t working anymore. Maybe you have never liked you scheduling and time management policy but do not know how to go about changing it.... Read more


1/14/2021 | Author: Ximara Vega

Every year people tend to make goals for the upcoming new year. Somehow a new year inspires others to reinvent themselves in some way and like most initiatives, they lose their luster after a few weeks. I was supposed have rock hard abs like 3 years in a row. If ever... Read more

© 2021 IDOC. All Rights Reserved