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John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 4471
Experience:  Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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I am required to attend mandatory semi monthly staff meetings

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I am required to attend mandatory semi monthly staff meetings outside of my normal work hours. My work hours are 9:30 - 6, Staff meeting starts at 7:30 . My organization is requiring me to take long lunches to avoid paying me the two hours of overtime. Is this legal? It is my understanding that mandatory meetings outside of normal work hours must be compensated at time and one half, and I cannot be required to flex my time(long lunches) to avoid the company paying me overtime. I work for a Federally qualified health center.
Hi, thanks for submitting your question today. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I’m happy to assist you with your question today.

First off - you are required to be paid your wage (and overtime if you exceed 40 hours per workweek) while attending a mandatory meeting. They are necessarily paid at time and a half unless the meeting pushes your total weekly hours beyond 40. The FLSA is absolutely clear on that.

Second- regarding mandatory break hours. The employer's duty to pay for the time generally depends on the employee's ability to completely disengage from work during the time and an increment of more than 1/2 hour. In other words, if the employee is allowed to completely disengage from work during the time and it is in excess of a half hour or more, then the time is not compensable. Generally, if the employee goes to a break room or is allowed to go off campus , then the time is considered a complete break. The more complex situation occurs where an employee works while on lunch break or does some type of work/eat scenario at his or her desk. This is why some companies have policies that employees must take a break and get clearance from management to work during a break.

The employer can mandate that you take a break of more than a half hour to ensure your hours do not exceed 40 during the weeks of your training. You just need to be sure that during these breaks you are completely disengaged from work. I'm sure as a matter of practicality you'd rather not have a large break in the middle of the day, but the practice of mandating such a break is legal.

I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation – simply reply to this answer. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX wish you all the best with this matter.

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