Automated Meal and Rest Penalties

Updated Feb 14, 2021

California mandates that employees who work a certain number of hours without a rest period or without a meal period are eligible to be paid extra, but there are different thresholds and rules that dictate what counts as a meal or rest penalty, respectively. Fortunately, TimeForge makes it easy to automate the tracking and compensation of both meal and rest penalties.

Note - this isn't just important for California. Other states have adopted non-standard meal and rest policies too.

This article will show you how to configure TimeForge to automate meal and rest penalties so that your business can remain compliant.

How does it work?

TimeForge can reference breaks rules, exception rules, and pay rules to automatically add regular pay (usually set to 1 hour) to an employee's time card when they fail to take a scheduled meal period, or if their attended meal period is less than the allowed duration (i.e. 30 minutes). This hour is coded with a meal penalty pay code (not straight time). Similar logic can be applied for rest periods (e.g. 10 minutes) as configured. This functionality does not reference waivers. This functionality is configurable by location or company-wide.

Manual overrides to system-generated meal penalties are possible for managers and supervisors with the appropriate security templates.

Prerequisites / Requirements

The following must be set or enabled in TimeForge:

  • Scheduling and Attendance platforms in use (the logic to automatically assess meal penalties and rest break penalties relies on both)
  • Meal penalties set to count as regular time
  • Meal break and rest break exceptions configured under Attendance Options
  • No lunch and Late lunch exceptions configured under Attendance Options
  • Breaks can not be taken automatically by TimeForge (the employee must clock in/out of breaks)

Let's start by configuring TimeForge to automatically identify and apply penalties when meal and rest exceptions occur.

If you need assistance getting meal penalties enabled, our support desk is also always ready to help.

Configuration settings

Under the location's Attendance Options, scroll down to Calculations and select Yes to include meal penalties as regular time. This will ensure that employees are compensated for a missed lunch in the form of a regular paid hour.

Timeforge - Google Chrome

Next, scroll down to Exceptions and select Yes to enable meal penalties and rest break penalties.

Selecting Yes will provide configuration options for each. These options should be configured as per your state's laws regarding missed breaks and meals and the maximum number of penalties that can be applied in a day. Always be sure to consult your legal team for guidance on applicable state and local guidelines or wage orders.

Timeforge - Google Chrome

Just below the Exceptions settings, you'll see a few additional options for late lunch and no lunch. Make sure these are set correctly, as well:

Timeforge - Google Chrome

All penalties are assessed in real-time and when correctly configured to enforce unpaid break duration on meal periods to 30 minutes, should almost completely eliminate meal penalties due to short meals.

View meal penalties and exceptions under Manage Attendance

When a manager or supervisor navigates to Manage Attendance and views an employee's attendance entry, they can see (near the bottom of the record) whether any exceptions or penalties have been applied to that shift:

Watch 'Touch base meal penalties' | Microsoft Stream - Google Chrome

So in this case, two regular hours have been counted toward meal penalties for this employee's shift.

Hovering over the exception icons will provide a description of each. Manual overrides can be applied by clicking the plus sign button in the lower right.

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