Automatic Meal and Rest Breaks – An Employer’s Guide

Breaks
Breaks
Image by Engin_Akyurt from Pixabay

Different forms of rest breaks are important for your employees’ physical and mental well-being. When structured properly, they can have a positive impact on health and safety and also improve the productivity in your workplace.

Workday Breaks 

Breaks during the workday allow employees to rest during the workday. They could be in the form of rest breaks, coffee breaks and meal breaks.

Meal and Rest Breaks
Meal and Rest Breaks

Most national and EU regulations require specific breaks based on the number of hours worked. Depending on the country, some or all of these breaks could be paid or unpaid.

Break Times

Meal breaks and rest breaks are essential for workers during a long work day.  The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not mandate an employer to offer meal or rest breaks to employees. But several states have their own laws that obligate employers to give paid and unpaid breaks to employees.

Whether it is mandatory or not, many employers do allot paid /unpaid time for lunch and other breaks. Federal law does designate what time is considered paid and unpaid.

Tracking Break Times

Lunch and rest breaks can be tricky to track. Some employees may forget to clock out. Others may forget to clock back in, when they start working in. This leads to either minutes being added to employee timesheets or being reduced from their time worked. This means that the timesheets are inaccurate and therefore payroll is inaccurate too. In order to make timesheets more accurate, many employers choose to implement automatic time deductions for meals and rest breaks. This ensure that employees get their daily breaks automatically deducted. This is great for employers who want to ensure that they are paying employees accurately. But many people still question the legality of automatic meal and break deductions.

Are Automatic Break Deductions Legal?

Yes! According to the U.S Department of Labor (DOL) and FLSA, it is legal for employers to automatically deduct lunch breaks. As long as the employee actually takes the lunch break. A legal meal break has to last at least 30 minutes according to the FLSA. The key is that employers need to communicate meal periods unambiguously to employees.

Unpaid Meal Breaks

States that enact meal break laws require a half hour break if the employee’s work day is longer than 5 or 6 hours. These meal breaks must be at least 30 minutes long, according to the FLSA. Meal breaks are uncompensated as the employee does not perform any work duties during this time.  If an employee works during the meal break, she has the right to be paid for that time.

Paid Rest Breaks

Rest periods are smaller breaks that are 5 to 20 minutes long. These breaks are compensated as they are considered normal working time. Some states require 10-minute break times for every 4 hours of an employee’s shift. These short breaks are generally considered to promote better productivity.

You can find more information about which hours are considered paid and unpaid.

Keeping Track of Breaks Automatically

Configuring Automatic Breaks
Configuring Automatic Breaks

You can keep track of your employee’s work times by implementing an easy-to-use time tracking app in your operations. With the Mobile Time Tracker’s Auto Breaks feature, you can automatically deduct time from employee timecards, based on the specifications that you have set up. You can add as many break rules as you need to ensure that your employees break times are properly accounted for.

Why use the Auto Breaks Feature?

Managers and Administrators have a lot on their plates when it comes to tracking employee times. Week after week, they need to make sure that all employee work and break time is recorded automatically. The Time Tracker’s Auto Breaks feature does the heavy lifting for you. It can automatically apply the break rules, based on the rules that you have set up.

Make sure that you are complying with all federal and local laws concerning break times. That way you avoid trouble with employees, DOL and FLSA. And you make sure that your payroll is accurate.

Have you converted Volunteers to Donors?

Convert Volunteers to Dono

Convert Volunteers to Dono

Looking to grow your donor base? A fantastic place to start is to convert your Volunteers to Donors. According to Abila’s Donor Loyalty Study, 75% of those who volunteered say they are more likely to donate. That is an overwhelming statistic and one that nonprofits should leverage. Studies also show that volunteers donate 10 times more than non-volunteers.

So how do you convert volunteers to donors for your nonprofit? Here are five best practices to help you convert volunteers to donors.

Acknowledge Volunteers like you do Donors

Treat your volunteers right. They may not make monetary contributions.  But the time that they donate to your nonprofit has a tangible monetary value. According to the Independent Sector, the  value of Volunteer Time in 2019 was $ 25.43 per hour. So a volunteer who spends 10 hours with you, has made a contribution of over $ 250 to your nonprofit.

Are you telling your volunteers how much you appreciate their time and effort? Try and do that at as many opportunities as possible. If you can, try to quantify their activity into how much money or time they’ve saved your organization.

For example, “The supporters that you brought to the Annual Walkathon helped us raise an additional $ 5000 this year. This will help us serve another 100 people. Your time and effort helped make this possible!”

Track all volunteer activity

Do you track all volunteer hours diligently? Do you have reports that tell you how many hours a volunteer spent with you this year vs last year? Can you track volunteer retention rates?

Tracking each volunteer interaction gives you a better understanding of the volunteer’s engagement with your organization. And, if you don’t know how the volunteer helped, how can you appropriately thank them?

Tracking all the volunteer hours spent with your organization provide great statistics for grant requests too.

Acknowledge Volunteer Milestones

Volunteer Awards Report
Volunteer Awards Report

Tracking all volunteer hours lets you keep track of specific volunteer milestones. Set up simple acknowledgements or rewards for when volunteers complete specific hour-based or time-based milestones. For example, a volunteer reaches 50 hours this year or completes 3 years of volunteering with you. Reach out to the volunteer. Make a public gesture. Show them that you are aware of their effort and interest in your cause.

Give your volunteers opportunities to share their experiences

Social media share
Social media share

Give your volunteers easy ways for them to share their experience on social media. Use their experience quotes on your website, in a newsletter. Talk to your volunteers about why they do what they do. They can become great ambassadors for your cause. And that may inspire their friends to become donors to your nonprofit.

Ask your Volunteers

Finally, just get down and ask your volunteers for donations. Communication is key, whether it’s with volunteers or donors. According to the Institute for Fundraising, 8 out of 10 people donate after being asked to do so. Don’t assume that your volunteers know your cause and therefore will donate automatically. Maybe they don’t know that your organization needs the money; they may just know that you need volunteers. They may not even know the best or easiest way to donate.

So a simple , straight forward ask may suffice. Perhaps you could set up a way for volunteers to donate a small amount every month. Think of it as a SIP donation plan for volunteers. They could give you $ 10/20/50 every month. That may be easier for some volunteers.

Have you already converted some volunteers to donors? How did you do it? Do share your stories with us.

5 ways to manage your business while on vacation!

—Pngtree—fresh sea travel graduation tour_912789Vacation time isn’t just a perk for employees – business owners and entrepreneurs need a break just as much, if not more. They are a time for spending much needed time with your family and/or friends as well as for de-stressing and revitalizing yourself, while refreshing your mind with new ideas. But not only is it common for small business owners to not take vacations, they are known to worry when they do take one.

But the fact is that a vacation is one of the best things that you can do for yourself, your business and your customers:

  • A vacation gives you a physical and mental break.
  • You’ll learn that your employees and customers can live without you for a few days. Perhaps, you’ll even discover a key employee who can be your trusted lieutenant.
  • You’ll come back with a refreshed perspective and new ideas for your business
  • Most importantly, you’ll avoid burnout and resentment that can destroy employee and customer relationships.

With all the technology available today, you can thwart vacation anxiety and go on a relaxing vacation with things running smoothly in your absence. Here are some tips to get rid of vacation anxiety while you’re away, whether you’re relaxing on the beach, hiking up those mountains or chasing animals on safari.

  1. Choose the right person to hold the fort for you: The absolute first thing that you should do is to select a trusted employee to stand in for you. Make sure that it’s someone who knows your business well. Ensure that you transition smoothly by going over routine and unexpected tasks with her/him. Figure out what issues constitute an emergency where s/he should get in touch with you right away.
  2. Communicate with your customers and staff: Problems arise if customers expect you to be around but can’t get in touch. Tell them about your vacation plans in advance. Remind them before you leave. Let them know who’ll be in charge and what they should expect. Make sure you tell your employees too. Keep them informed of how much/little time you plan to spend on work-related matters. Clarify your expectations, so that your team knows how and when to reach out to you.
  3. Set boundaries for yourself: Just as you set boundaries for your customers and employees, set boundaries for yourself. Forty percent of travelers agreed that their smartphone was the most important thing that they take on vacation. And that they check work emails often. But let’s face it, it’s not a vacation if you stay glued to your phone all day. If you’ve committed to staying in touch via email every day, pick convenient time slots and stick with it. If you plan on spending an hour every day on work, ideally pick a 30-minute slot in the morning when the rest of your vacation group is getting ready and a 30-minute slot in the evening when you can check emails, calls, chats. Avoid the temptation to check in more frequently.
  4. Manage your phone and email: You may be on vacation, but the rest of your world isn’t.
    • Set up an email auto-responder and a voice mail message clearly stating the dates that you will be out of reach
    • Tell people that you will get back to them after you return if it is a non-urgent matter
    • Make sure that the message has details of who they should get in touch with for urgent matters
    • If there is an issue that you need to deal with, do it in the time that you’ve set apart for work
    • Only respond to critical matters. Make a note of the other matters, so that you can deal with them after you get back
    • If there is something really urgent and critical, then a face to face meeting with your stand-in or other employees or customers may be necessary. Use Facetime. Google Hangouts, Google Duo or Skype for a live video-chat.
  5. Stay in the loop with collaboration tools: If your team uses a web-based collaboration tool such as Trello, Asana, Slack or Evernote, use it to stay in the loop – but within the boundaries you’ve set for yourself. If your team uses project management or time tracking tools, you can check your daily/weekly reports. Again, within the time boundaries that you’ve set for yourself. With access to tools like this, you’ll realize that you can troubleshoot in real time, without being tied to your office desk. And that your business is running just fine.

Running a business on vacation, may be a challenge. But it’s definitely something that can be done. All it needs is some planning and preparation and making use of technology to stay in touch. So if you’re off on a vacation, go on. Have a great time!

6 Top Time Clock Rules for Hourly Employees

Time wasters at work

As an employer, you have many responsibilities but perhaps the most important one is complying with government rules and regulations. Recently, the time clock rules for hourly employees have changed and you need to make sure that you  comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). You need to be compliant in recording work hours, breaks, overtime and calculating wages for hourly employees.

The Department of Labor (DOL) is very strict about enforcing time clock rules. If you break these rules,  your company can be penalized with substantial fines for every lapse. The best way to ensure that you fulfill federal and state time clock rules is to use a good time tracking software system.  Ensure that the system tracks employees clocking in and out at the beginning and end of their workday. And lets them check in and out of specific jobs/projects.

Hourly Vs Salaried Employees

When understanding the FLSA rules, the most critical thing is the difference between salaried and hourly employees.

A salaried employee receives pay based on an annual sum or salary. As the employer, you decide the pay period – weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. A salaried employee is not obligated to complete a time sheet, though you may use one for project management or other tracking purposes. The salaried employee’s pay is based on the salary as a whole, rather than on the actual hours worked. So, if a salaried employee works a little over or under the normal 40-hour work week, the employer doesn’t need to keep track of their work hours.

An hourly employee, gets paid by the hour for the number of hours that they worked. As the employer, you decide how many hours your hourly employee must work. Some US states and cities have authorized predictive scheduling laws that mandate that hourly employees be given a specified  amount of notice of the hours they need to work.

An hourly worker is obligated to record their working hours through a timesheet or timecard system that the employer must verify.

Time Clock rules for Hourly Employees

To help you with your FLSA obligations with hourly employees, we reviewed the important rules that you need to keep in mind. These rules are for your hourly employees clocking in and out and tracking their work hours. Here are the top 6:

  • Time tracking system
  • Reported Hours Rounding
  • Maintaining time sheet records
  • Clocking in and out
  • Confirming hours
  • Clarifying time tracking policies

Time Tracking System

The FLSA does not obligate you to use any specific kind of time tracking system.

Mobile and web time tracking
Mobile, web & Salesforce time tracking

You are free to choose any type of system to track employee time as long as it is accurate. It’s important that the system that you use tracks actual hours worked including any breaks.

dftly’s Time Tracker app is used by many businesses to track time for individual employees and teams. It works on mobile devices, on web pages and within Salesforce, with all time tracking data securely inside Salesforce, regardless of what device it was recorded on. Click here to see how your employees can record their time easily and accurately, wherever they may be working.

Rounding work hours.

The FLSA allows you to round your employees’ reported time to the nearest specified increment. You are permitted to round your employees’ time up or down. For example, if you are rounding off in 10-minute intervals and your employee finishes work at 5:16 p.m., the time should be rounded up to 5:20 p.m.

You need to round up and down fairly. If you are always rounding down (where minutes are deducted), you may be breaking overtime and minimum wage laws.

Make sure that your time tracking system automatically rounds up or down to ensure accuracy and fairness. If the rounding up has caused your employees to be entitled to overtime, then you are obligated to pay that overtime, based on the overtime laws for your state/city.

Maintaining time sheet records

Employers are required to keep time cards (or other records) that demonstrate how your hourly employees wages were calculated for a period of at least two years. The two-year period is required by the US Department of Labor and you are required to provide access to the Wage and Hour Division access to inspect your records when necessary. So make sure that your time tracking software can store timesheet records for as long as necessary. With the Time Tracker, since all records are stored securely in Salesforce, you can always maintain time records for the necessary time-frames.

Clocking in and out

As the employer, you can decide whether your hourly employees are allowed to clock in early or clock out late. However, it should only be a few minutes and not hours. With the Time Tracker, you can easily add a limit on clocking in early and clocking out late. In addition, you can configure the Time Tracker to automatically log out or check out an employee after a certain number of hours or minutes for mandatory break times.

Confirming hours

Your hourly workers should have the opportunity to confirm their hours at the

Employees verify worked hours
Employees verify worked hours

end of every pay period. Although a good time tracking system would have recorded the work time accurately, your hourly employees should be able to review and verify their hours,

Your time tracking system should give you or a designated supervisor/manager with the functionality to approve time cards. In addition, you or the manager should receive emails notifications if there are any anomalies in the time cards.

Clarifying time tracking policies

Use photos to avoid buddy punching
Use photos to avoid buddy punching

As the employer, you must inform all hourly employees of the policies and procedures regarding your time clock rules. We suggest that you include it as part of your employee handbook and provide training on how to use the time tracking system. Policies that should be explained include:

  • What happens if employees are caught tampering, or attempting to tamper with the time tracking system
  • The consequences if employees are caught trying to commit time theft
  • What happens if employees are caught buddy punching (trying to clock in and out for their colleagues).

Make the right choice for your business

Given the importance of adhering to time clock rules, it may be impossible to adhere to state and federal requirements, with just manual time cards. Investing in a good, accurate time tracking software system is the right choice for most businesses. It’s not just about potential legal and compliance problems, but you could be losing money on payroll, if you are not correctly calculating work hours with overtime and rounding.

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Checking in volunteer groups with V4S Kiosk

Checking in volunteer groups is one of the toughest things to handle for volunteer managers. Having a group of volunteers come in to volunteer together is fantastic. But tracking those new volunteers and their work time? Now that is a real challenge for you as a Volunteer Manager or Coordinator.

Multiple volunteer signup by number
Multiple volunteer signup by number

Volunteers for Salesforce gives you the functionality of adding in the number of volunteers that come as a part of a group. The point person for a group can set the total number of people in the group. This screenshot shows you how a group leader signs up a group of 20 volunteers using V4S Personal on her mobile.

But that’s really all you can record with the standard Volunteers for Salesforce data structure. The fact that the group leader is bringing in 19 other people, other than herself. There’s no way to track who the individual members of the group are. Or any of their contact information.

Extend volunteer value

For your organization, that individual volunteer data is critical. You want to be able to keep track of every volunteer that ever comes in touch with your organization. A volunteer that comes as part of a group could very likely become a repeat individual volunteer.  If you build a deeper relationship and extend communication with that volunteer, she or he could contribute to your organization by becoming more involved.

Working with group volunteers in V4S Kiosk

Based on requests and interactions with several of our V4S Kiosk customers,

Checking in group volunteers
Checking in group volunteers

we’ve now introduced a new feature to check in multiple volunteers that come in as part of a group. If the group leader comes in a little earlier than the Job / Shift start time, then she can Signup the other volunteers in her group to the specific Job / Shift. Note the

Volunteer group dropdown
Volunteer group dropdown

way that the Add multiple volunteers screen is set up in V4S Kiosk. If you have multiple volunteer groups that are coming in, you could sign up people from different groups using the same screen, by selecting the right group name for the specific volunteer that you are signing up.

If your organization requires that each volunteer sign a waiver form, you would be able to set that up. When the individual volunteer checks in to start work on the Job / Shift, she would be asked to read and sign a waiver form, right within V4S Kiosk.

Volunteer data in Salesforce

volunteer data in salesforceAll the new volunteers signed in on the V4S Kiosk get added to Volunteers as Salesforce as Contact records, with the configured Volunteer Group field updated. If so configured, the Date Waiver signed and the actual waiver signed along with the signature is stored inside Salesforce. Now you have the luxury of being able to get to all volunteer data easily and securely, right inside Salesforce.

Just imagine how much effort and time you would save with group corporate volunteers. Additionally, using the Waiver add-on would give you the ability to save effort with tracking volunteer waivers and being compliant legally. Now isn’t that something you should be checking out?