New break policy is spelled out


It has come to management’s attention that employees are not following the guidelines regarding meals and other breaks. Moving forward, we ask that you comply with the policy. Key provisions are as follows:
–You must clock in and out for every break.
–You do not need to clock out if you step away momentarily (to use a phone, bathroom or vending machine) and expect to return in 2-3 minutes, but you do need to notify your supervisor that you will be away briefly.
–Breaks will be taken at designated times during your shift, not whenever individual employees care to take them.
–Snacks at workstations are acceptable but meals are not. Please eat your meals in the breakroom.
–Remember that you are sharing a desk with employees working on other shifts. Please be considerate.
–As with any overtime, working through lunch must be approved by your supervisor.
–Employees may not combine smaller breaks into one large one.

Management has collected some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the policy, and answers these below:

The person I share my desk with gets out of the chair only as I arrive for my shift. Residual body heat left in the chair by this person disgusts me. Do I have to sit in their body heat, or can I log onto my computer while standing?

You may remember from your high school physics class that heat, or any kind of energy, is not inherently “clean” or “dirty”. We ask you to tolerate all co-workers’ body heat. Imagine that we’ve invested in office chairs that feature a heating pad if that helps. We do not advise that you log in while standing, as this is ergonomically incorrect. Anyone seen logging in while standing will have to re-take basic safety training.

So for bathroom breaks, basically we need to clock out for number two but not for number one?

Yes, defecation must be during an official break while urination can be on the clock.

On the clock? That seems really messy and unsanitary. Won’t the liquid mess up the electronics?

You know what we mean. Don’t be juvenile.

What if we think it’s only going to be number one but discover that number two becomes necessary while we’re gone?

You can send a text message to your supervisor with this update, if it occurs.

Can you suggest some acronym abbreviations for this message, so we won’t be embarrassed if our spouse gets ahold of our cell phone?

Yes. We suggest “HTP CMO” can stand for “had to poop, clock me out”.

If we’re taking 2-3 minutes to use a vending machine, do we have to tell our supervisor what we’re going to buy?

No. What you eat is covered by HIPAA privacy rules.

But elimination of waste is not?

HIPAA only prevents employers from asking about the physical characteristics of the waste (runny, foot-long, corn-flecked, etc.). Whether or not you have to go at all is an employer’s right to know.

What about smoke breaks?

These must be taken either during your two 15-minute breaks or your 30-minute lunch.

So we only get three, maybe four cigarettes a day?

You can smoke as many cigarettes as you can fit into your mouth at one time.

You say we can eat snacks at our desk but not meals. How do we tell the difference?

Anything on a stick (corn dog, lollipop, shish kabob) is considered a snack. Everything else is a meal and must be eaten in the break room.

How about a drink?

Fraternizing between supervisors and employees in an establishment that serves alcohol is forbidden.

No, I wasn’t asking you out for a drink. I was asking if we can have soft drinks and coffee at our desks.

Drinks at your work station are acceptable, as long as they are not spilled. First time one gets spilled, this privilege will be revoked.

What if we get thirsty? We’re not camels, you know.

Both “beer hats” and intravenous fluid infusion would still be allowed in this circumstance, though you couldn’t put actual beer in the hat. Or in the IV, for that matter.

My first break is scheduled for 90 minutes after I arrive. What if I’m not tired yet?

Regularly scheduled breaks are important for the safety and well-being of employees. Just stare at the wall in the breakroom if you can think of nothing better to do.

Some people seem to be using their cell phones all the time. Are you going to do anything about that?

Cell phone use at your work station is strictly prohibited. Emergency calls should be taken just outside the work area.

Julie gets calls from her daughter asking what time it is.

Don’t be a snitch. Nobody likes a tattle-tale.

You say we can’t combine smaller breaks into one large one. Does that mean we can’t eat our lunch in the toilet?

Is that what I’ve been smelling in the restroom? No, you can’t eat in the toilet.

Why not?

Because it’s disgusting. That’s why.

What if I’m not hungry at my pre-designated lunch half-hour?

Food is important for the safety and well-being of employees. You’ll eat when we tell you to.

So if we work through lunch by accident because we’re so busy, we won’t get paid overtime for that?

Not only will you not get overtime pay, but you will be cited on your next review for not following department procedures.

Because we’re trying to be creative in the way we satisfy customer demands?

Creativity is only allowed in the workplace when it is done in accordance with Standard Practice #4.36, as outlined on checklist EA-37.

Can we still leave the building for lunch breaks?

If you can be back in 30 minutes.

The only place that close is the awful diner next door.

Have you tried their “Mama’s Meat Loaf”? It’s really not bad, if you put some ketchup on it.

The person I share my desk with eats peanuts and I have a nut allergy. What should I do?


Who is responsible for cleaning crumbs out of the keyboard?

If you and your deskmates cannot agree on sharing that responsibility, we’ll leave it to the roaches and ants.

My deskmate uses a footstool to keep her legs and back comfortable, but I’m taller and don’t need one. What should I do?

All employees are required to be the same size. You should inform Human Resources of any issues related to this.

Remember, we outsourced the human resources department about a year ago and there’s only one guy left. And he refers all our questions to an internal website.

You should’ve thought of that before you planned to be a different height than your coworkers.

These rules are ridiculous and petty. What do you think we are, a bunch of children?


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One Response to “New break policy is spelled out”

  1. Stentorphone Says:

    Thanks. The next time I find myself in a Subway or a Quizno’s, I will never again envision the term ‘footlong’ as I did previous to reading this posting.

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