Q: One of our full-time, non-exempt employees who works in our Massachusetts office asked if she could take a 30 minute lunch break instead of the complete hour, while still working until her scheduled time of 5:00 pm. Is this possible?A: As long as you are allowing your employees the minimum meal period required by the state, you can decide whether or not to allow this employee to shorten her meal time. Massachusetts, like many states that require meal breaks, has a 30 minute minimum requirement for the meal time.
Keep in mind that shortening her lunch break without adjusting the beginning or ending time of her shift may cause her to regularly work overtime. Many employers will allow employees to shorten their meal periods, but adjust their arrival or departure time so that the total work time stays the same. Employers who need coverage at both ends of an employee’s shift, however, may decide to require the hour long lunch break even if it is not the employee’s preference.
Whichever way you decide, you should be consistent. If you allow a shortened meal period for this employee, it is best to allow it for employees in similar roles. The same goes for allowing or not allowing regular overtime hours.