From the Hotline: Pay and Working at Holiday Party

Question: Should we pay our employees who are working our holiday party for the time they sit to eat during the dinner portion of the party?

Answer: Nonexempt employees who are asked to or electively perform work-related to set up, clean up, or other party activities during the event should be compensated for that time. Any breaks taken for eating would follow standard wage and hour regulations. Time taken in 30-minute increments where an employee is not required to be interrupted or tend to other work-related tasks would not be compensated. The Department of Labor states, “when employers do offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5 to 20 minutes), federal law considers the breaks as compensable work hours that would be included in the sum of hours worked during the work week and considered in determining if overtime was worked.” This would include time taken during a company event for working nonexempt employees. Check your state wage and hour rules for additional pay requirements.

Reference: www.dol.gov/dol/topic/workhours/breaks.htm