Setting up meal break enforcement and waivers

In many jurisdictions, laws exist regarding how long non-exempt employees can work without taking a break. For example, in many US states, employees must take one half-hour unpaid meal break if they work a shift of 6 or more hours.

If you use TimeAttend QuickStart or Plus, or Workforce Management, you can use break rules to track whether employees are taking their assigned breaks correctly. If a break violation occurs, you can alert the employee with a message that displays when their timesheet is saved, or when they next punch in or out.

If you live in California where break violations incur a penalty to the employer, you can set up penalties to be paid or, when applicable, waived by the employee.

Why create break rules?

There are four reasons to set up break rules in Replicon:

  • To track whether breaks are being taken correctly  
  • To warn employees if the breaks they are taking do not match their company’s requirements
  • To identify when break penalties need to be paid, where applicable
  • To allow employees to waive eligible break penalties, where applicable

Setting up break rules

Replicon has default break rules you can use to enforce breaks. QuickStart users cannot modify these rules in any way, but Plus users can change the rules’ parameters to match their requirements.

If you use Workforce Management, you can update the default rules, or create custom rules. Contact your Customer Success Manager for more information.

To view or update the default rules:

  1. If the rule is for punch users, go to Administration > Punch Time Entry > Punch Validation Rules and click Meal Break Validation with Waiver.

If the rule is for timesheet users, go to Administration > Timesheets > Timesheet Validation Rules and click Meal Break Enforcement.

The break rule displays, with default minimum break length and timing requirements listed.

  1. Under Parameters, update the values to meet your requirements, if necessary.

You don’t have to update the descriptions that appear on the left, but we recommend you do so to avoid confusion.

  1. Update the violation message, if needed.

This message displays as a warning to employees when they haven’t entered their break times according to the defined rule.

  1. Set the waiver option, if required.
  2. Click Save.

You can now assign the rule to users in their timesheet template or their punch policy.

Setting up meal break penalties

In California, if a break violation occurs, the employer is required to pay the employee a penalty. This penalty is a pay premium equal to 1 hour at the employee’s regular pay rate, unless the penalty is waived.

A break violation occurs when an employee doesn’t take a break correctly, as defined by their assigned break rule – the break was either too short, too late, or was missed.

To set up a break penalty:

  1. Go to Administration > Pay Codes and Policies > Pay Rules.
  2. Select the California rule.
  3. Ensure the Pay Meal Break Penalty option is set to On.
  4. Click Save.

Any employee assigned this pay rule in their user profile will be paid the 1 hour premium each time they violate their assigned break rule, unless they waive the penalty. As per California law, they are only entitled to this premium once per shift, even if multiple violations occurred.

Setting up waivers

In California, if a break violation occurs, the employer is required to pay the employee a penalty. This penalty is a pay premium equal to 1 hour at the employee’s regular pay rate.

For some violations, however, the employee has the option to waive the violation and payment of that break penalty.

Which break penalties can be waived?

Break penalties can be waived for shifts that are between 5 and 6 hours long. And, if a shift is between 10 and 12 hours long, the employee’s second meal break may be waived, but only if the first meal break was not waived.

Employees may not waive the penalty for any other shifts. For example, if a break violation occurs during a 6.5 hour shift, the meal break penalty must be paid.

Allowing employees to waive break penalties

You can use Replicon to allow employees to waive the violation penalty. Only punch employees can be given this option.

To allow employees to waive applicable penalties:

  1. Go to Administration > Punch Time Entry > Punch Validation Rules.
  2. Select the Meal Break Validation with Waiver rule.
  3. Ensure the Meal break waiver prompt option is set to On.

When a violation occurs that is eligible to be waived, the next time the employee punches in or out, they will be prompted with a message stating a violation has occurred, followed by the statement: Do you want to waive this penalty? and two option buttons labeled: Waive or Do Not Waive.

  1. Update the wording of the waiver prompt message, if desired.
  2. Click Save.

If the employee chooses to not waive the penalty, they will be paid the penalty, providing the Pay Meal Break Penalty option is set to On in their pay rule.

You can use reports based on the Time Punch Details template to track waivers. That template shows the punch that prompted a waiver message, and how the employee responded.


Do I need to create a break schedule in Replicon to enforce breaks?

No. While you can create shift schedules that include breaks and assign them to employees, break enforcement is always based on the break rule assigned, and when the employee actually punches in and out, so no schedule needs to exist in Replicon.

Why would an employee waive a meal break premium?

Employees are entitled to the premium if a break violation occurred, regardless of what caused the violation. But, they might choose to waive the penalty if they know they are at fault for the missed or short break – for example, if they refused the break or forgot to take it.

Can we define the amount of the meal break penalty?

No. The penalty defaults to 1 hour at the employee’s regular rate.

Can we set up waivers if our employees use a timesheet only, and do not punch?

No, it’s not currently possible to do that.

How can we be certain employees using a timesheet took their breaks correctly?

If you need to validate exactly when employees start and end breaks, you should set them up as punch users.

Related links

Setting up pay rules
About the pre-defined pay rules library
Using the Compliance Dashboard
Setting up break types