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The U.S. DOL Resumes Issuing Opinion Letters

The Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor (DOL) recently resumed issuing opinion letters, which respond to questions from employers. The DOL had not issued letters since January 2009; the resumption of published opinion letters is seen widely as the DOL moving in a more “employer friendly” direction.

According to the DOL, opinion letters are intended to “provide meaningful and comprehensive guidance and compliance assistance to the broadest number of employers and employees.” DOL opinion letters are powerful tools to support employer pay practices which may otherwise be questioned.

In the most recent letter, an employer asked the DOL if it was required to compensate an employee for 15-minute breaks which the employee needed each hour due to a serious health condition. The DOL stated that such breaks are not compensable, reasoning that although breaks of 20 minutes or less are generally compensable because they are primarily for the benefit of the employer (to increase productivity), in this case the breaks are clearly for the benefit of the employee and thus not compensable.

We monitor the DOL’s publication of opinion letters and will periodically inform our clients of interesting or important developments.

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Should you have any questions on this or other employment-related matters, please contact Mr. Gefen at 516.437.4385, x119, or agefen@vmmlegal.com.

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