On April 12, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued an opinion letter addressing the intersection between the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Specifically, the DOL addressed the issues of when an employee needs multiple breaks throughout the day due to an FMLA covered serious health condition.
According to Opinion Letter FLSA 2018-19, when an employee needs multiple breaks throughout the day they are not compensable because they are not “primarily for the benefit of the employer”. However, the DOL noted that an employer must still compensate the employee for breaks an employee would have received regardless of his or her serious health condition.
The take away from this new opinion letter is employers can rest knowing that they do not have to pay employees for unlimited rest breaks because they are necessitated by an FMLA. Employers should carefully administer and track any such breaks to ensure compliance with both the FMLA and FLSA.