Ask HR: Can I restrict lunches to on campus only?

Dear HR: 

I have several employees that are constantly late when returning from their 30 minute lunch break. This is quite disruptive to business and the other employees are noticing. May I implement a policy that requires all staff to stay on the premises during their lunch breaks?


HR Answer:

Yes. Requiring employees to remain on the premises during the lunch break is permitted under current Federal and State regulations. Even if you require them to remain in the building for lunch, remember that they are entitled to receive an uninterrupted 30-minute meal period where they are completely relieved of all duties.  Also, you should keep in mind that fairness and consistency is key when implementing new policies. Employees that already follow the rules may not be very receptive to your proposed change. A more specific action you may consider is to address the specific employee’s tardiness from lunch as a performance issue, using progressive discipline. If there is more than one employee, verbally talk to each of them about your expectations. If that doesn’t seem to improve their efforts, move on to a more formal written warning etc. A great way to effectively communicate your workplace policies is in an employee handbook. For assistance drafting or updating your employee handbook, contact Cardinal.