Best Practices for Managing Meal and Rest Breaks of Remote Workers

Regardless of the work location, California employers must ensure non-exempt employees are offered and taking their required rest and meal breaks. Managing this process may be a challenge for employers with remote workers. It is not enough to have employees acknowledge the company policy.

A best practice to ensure compliance is to remind non-exempt employees of their obligations to take their breaks on time and accurately record them. Consider sending a monthly or quarterly reminder of the policy and share tips or best practices to help them take their brakes and balance their day at home in front of the screen.

Here are two sample emails you can use to remind employees of their obligations.

Example 1:

Dear Employee,

Working from home can make it even more challenging for one to take time to step away and take a break or turn in off at the end of the workday. As a non-exempt employee, you must take a ten (10) minute break within the first four (4) hours of your workday and another ten (10) minutes within the last 4 hours of your work. Additionally, you are required to take a 30-minute lunch break before the 5th hour of work.

Here are some best practices for ensuring you are taking your breaks:

  • Calendar it – Set an appointment on your calendar to take a break. You are more likely to commit to the break if it is on your schedule.
  • Schedule yourself to take a 10-minute walk or make a snack.
  • If you have a dog, cat, or iguana, take them for a quick walk.
  • Schedule a 30-minute fitness or yoga class during your lunch break.
  • Set up a group lunch or connect on facetime or zoom with a family member, friend, or colleague and have virtual lunch together.

Regardless of what you do, remember to disconnect and take a much-needed break out of your busy day.

Make it easy on yourself and log your time in and out daily verse at the end of the week or two-week period. Additionally, it will provide for a more accurate track of your time.

Example 2:

Dear Employee,

As a reminder, please ensure you are taking your meal and rest breaks and recording them daily.

When is it an excellent time to take a break?

  • When your eyes are tired: When you are staring at your screen for long periods of times your eyes start to feel dry and tired.  Taking breaks from the screen can help you refocus mentally and allow you to rest your eyes. Go for a walk around the block, phone a friend for a quick check-in, take a cat nap – don’t forget to set an alarm, or have a quick meal or snack.
  • When your kids need interaction: If your kids are home from school or daycare while working remotely, take breaks when your child needs you. Dedicate some time to playing with them, answering questions, or having a conversation with no distractions. Balancing remote work and full-time childcare is new to many people, so give yourself some grace as you and your family learn how to balance work and family in the house.
  • When it’s beautiful outside: Fresh air and sunshine can improve your mood, renew your focus, and give you an energy boost. So go for a walk or sit outside and take in the fresh air.

Check out some additional great tips form Indeed on Taking Breaks from Remote Work During COVID-19

Review the company Rest and Meal Break Policy for more details on break times and recoding time. 

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