Establish procedures, audit your payment processes

The recent dismissal of a lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) against Baptist Memorial Health Care in Memphis, TN, holds several lessons for risk managers, says the health system’s attorney, Paul E. Prather, JD, a shareholder with the law firm of Littler Mendelson in Memphis.

Prather offers these suggestions:

  • Ensure that your hospital has procedures in place for employees to report missed meal breaks and other work performed off the clock. These procedures must be in writing and effectively communicated to employees.
  • Frequently reaffirm that employees will be paid for missed meal breaks and similar periods and that such requests will not result in retaliation or other negative action against the employee.
  • Create a track record of actually paying for that time so you will have a good defense in showing that the hospital pays for the time when notified.
  • Use internal audits to find potential problems with compensating for off-the-clock time. Remember that typical audits in this area focus on overtime pay and minimum wage issues, so meal times and similar concerns could be overlooked.