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Does your shop force you to take breaks?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by schiezainc, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    Hey guys, I had a quick question.

    My boss and I got into an argument recently because one of the people in my department worked seven hours in a row without a documented break and, well, there's no good way to put this but my boss is not exactly the brightest bulb in the world.

    Her argument is that state labor laws in my state require any employee who works six or more hours to take a 20-minute break. In this industry, however, that is not always possible.

    The employee in question was on assignment on the day he put in a longer than six hour shift and short of leaving to go have a sandwich in the middle of covering something, he had to sit through the whole event as is.

    This has come up repeatedly in our shop and I just wonder what you guys think. For frame of reference, the exact state law says: " A twenty-minute meal period must be given during a six-hour shift, and a thirty-minute meal period must be given during an eight-hour shift. This does not include healthcare facilities or companies employing less than three employees at one site during a shift".

    I read that to mean that since the employee in question was by himself on site during his "shift" (He was covering an event) that he doesn't have to take a break at all and I think that my boss, who has no experience in editorial work, doesn't understand the requirements in this industry or understand why you can't just arbitrarily stand up in the middle of a golf tournament or town council meeting and ask everyone to hold on so you can have a yogurt.

    How do your shops handle breaks and is it anywhere close to how stupid mine does?
  2. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member


    Most people on here bitch because they are forced to work in violation of labor law.

    Now someone's complaining that they have a manager who follows the law.
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Let me be blunt:

    I doubt your bass cares very much whether folks in the department take breaks or not, as long as they put down breaks on their time cards.

    Got it?
  4. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    This. Given the increased mantra of "do more with less", I think the instances of hero journalism have gone far, far up. Meaning, one person covering 6+ hour meetings, one guy doing an entire all-day tournament, etc. Even if they want to do it, I think you have to step in and make them take at least a little break, to get some fresh air and some perspective. It also puts undue pressure on other members of staff - Maybe other people do want to take that break, but they feel like they can't because one or two others are doing all this other crap.

    Does it mean that some things might fall through the cracks? Sure. However, unless you're in the shittiest little town in the world, some things are always going to fall through the cracks. Employees have to be able to accept that they can't do everything, and that it is in their best interests to unplug every once in a while on a shift, and to take a break.
  5. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    This is awesome.
  6. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    At our place, we used to joke that only the smokers got breaks. So if you wanted a break, you had to take up smoking.
  7. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Are you really talking about yourself? Why does everything need wall-to-wall coverage?

    You brought up golf in not being able to take a break. Really? That's one sport where you can take plenty of breaks. Stop with the hero complex. It's a little ridiculous.
  8. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    Let me rephrase because clearly people are misinterpreting me here.

    My coworker and I take breaks to eat. It's called eating while working. For me, when I need to unwind, I do it. But I don't do it for 20 minutes a pop or a half-hour because that's ridiculous and I don't actually need to do that.

    The boss in question is upset because when we work from 12 p.m.-8 p.m., for instance, we might take 20 minutes to ourselves over the course of that eight hours but not in a row.

    I would tell the employee in question to just write it somewhere in the time card but my boss is anal about making sure every minute is documented as it occurs.

    It's not a hero complex. Far from it.
  9. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Then take a 20-minute break in the middle of a tournament game. Not every second of an all-day event needs to be covered. Not every second of a meeting needs to be covered.
  10. baddecision

    baddecision Active Member

    My boss forced me, and about 75 others, to take a permanent break back in '09.
  11. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I effing hated timecards. At my last shop we had to record time down to the tenth of an hour (six minutes!) and account for breaks. My first week on the job I really tried to be accurate and a good employee, and I ended up shorting myself an hour. And of course the payroll folks never correct that, but if you're one hour OVER on your card...
  12. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Even when I worked in a Guild newsroom, we usually ate at our desks.
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