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Manager Forces Employees To Take 2-Hour Unpaid Breaks & Then Clock Back In Because He Doesn't Want To Pay Overtime

Photo: Tirachard Kumtanon / Shutterstock
Stock image of tired employees

When you’re looking for stories of wage theft, labor violations, and improper management, Reddit’s r/antiwork forum is the place to go. Users are quick to educate others on labor laws and advise workers on their best courses of action when these laws are violated.

In one such case, a Reddit user took to the forum to complain about their manager’s recent break policy, and others had plenty to say about the situation.

A Redditor shared that their manager has been forcing employees to take 2-hour unpaid breaks on the premises to avoid paying them overtime.

According to the Reddit user who made the post, their manager decided to deal with scheduling issues by having employees “work 6 hours, take a 2-hour unpaid break then clock back in for 2 hours.”

What's worse is that they can't even leave the premise while on break. “He loudly told them that they cannot leave and go home so they just sit around until they can clock back in,” the user said.

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Photo: Reddit

The top comment on the post immediately pointed out that this was illegal. “They can leave [during their break] and come back. Report to the state labor department, if you have one,” the comment read.

A reply stated that their boss had tried to pull the same move on them. Their boss asked them to clock out for two hours but stay on the premises in case something came up, to which the worker had responded, “If I'm gonna be clocked out for 2 hours, you won't see me for 2 hours, you won't be able to reach me on my cellphone, and I will not be back until the 2 hours is up, and not a minute earlier.”

Others went into detail about US labor laws, with one including citations in their response.

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“In order to legally be able to not pay you, they have to totally relieve you of duties when you clock out, and they have to give you a time you need to be back and clock back in,” they explained.

“If they are having you clock out because the work dries out and they need you to stay onsite because they're not sure when the work will return, then you have to be paid for those hours waiting. This also applies if they allow you to leave the site but then call you back randomly because the work returns. If they randomly call you back to work, they have to pay you for those hours you were gone.”

Another comment put their point a bit more succinctly: “I gotta stay, you gotta pay.”

Some people questioned the boss's logic, while others chalked it up to a thoughtless power play.

"What's even the point in having them take a break and not doing anything? Not like he's getting more labor out of it, since they only work 8 hours total anyway. Or is there a lull in customers during those two hours?" one user asked.

"That could easily turn into asking them to do a little this or that while they’re waiting around in the store and now you’ve got unpaid labor," another warned. "Those employees need to put their foot down and insist on leaving or else they be paid for their time."

The consensus on the post was that while labor laws vary from state to state, the user’s manager was engaging in wage theft by requiring them to be on the premises during their break, and needed to be reported to the Department of Labor. In the words of one commenter, “Split shifts are not illegal. However, not allowing you to leave the premises while not on the clock is not okay.”

If you're ever unsure as to whether your employer is illegally exploiting you, Reddit isn't a bad place to start asking questions. We can only hope that the user who made the post was able to use the feedback they received to improve their situation.

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Jessica Bracken is a writer living in Davis, California. She covers entertainment and news for YourTango.