Tours of Duty
Section C - Scheduling Meal Periods
|Requirement for Meal Periods||
All full-time employees must take an unpaid meal period unless specifically excluded from this requirement for work-related reasons.
When an unpaid meal period is scheduled, the employee may leave his/her place of employment for the established period of time. When an unpaid meal period is not included in the tour of duty, the employee may not leave the immediate vicinity of his/her duty post.
|Part-time Employees||Part-time employees who work 5 or more hours per day are required to take an unpaid meal period. If the period of duty is less than 5 hours, a meal period normally would not be scheduled. Exceptions to this policy must meet the requirements for tours of duty without meal periods.|
|Employees Covered by FLSA||Employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must be allowed an uninterrupted unpaid meal period. If work is required during the period, the employee must be compensated under FLSA premium pay provisions. Whether the employee eats or not during this period is immaterial.|
| Meal Periods in the DC Metro Area
||The meal period (30, 45, or 60 minutes) in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area should be taken between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. When this cannot be followed, the meal period should be taken when practical, taking into account mission demands, employee needs, and if applicable, local negotiated agreements.|
|Meal Periods at Field Locations||
The amount of time taken for a meal period is set according to local practice and requirements of the work. It will be one of the following:
The meal period should begin no sooner than 2 hours after reporting for duty and end no later than 6 hours after the report time. When this cannot be followed, the meal period should be taken when practical, taking into account mission demands, employee needs, and if applicable, local negotiated agreements.
Note: GIPSA bargaining unit employees' meal period is to begin no sooner than 2 hours after reporting for duty and to end no later than 6 hours prior to the end of the shift.
|Length of Meal Periods||
Employees scheduled to work less than 5 hours are not required to take a meal period.
All employees scheduled to work 5 or more hours in a workday must take a meal period, unless an exception has been granted for one of the reasons given under tours of duty without meal periods. In APHIS and AMS, this applies to the regular workday as well as to overtime work.
|Meal Periods for Employees on Flexible Schedules||
For all flexible work schedules, meal periods may be 30, 45, or 60 minutes, but may not exceed 1 hour unless a CTD is granted. Employees working under flexitime or maxiflex must sign in and out for the meal period if it will extend the workday beyond the established TOD.
Exception: Meal periods longer than 1 hour may be taken at the option of the employee when a core time deviation has been approved.
Example: Before the beginning of the administrative workweek, the employee established his/her tour of duty for the week as Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Tuesday, the employee's lunch period was 30 minutes. This did not extend the workday; therefore, the employee did not need to sign in and out for lunch. On Wednesday, however, the employee's lunch period lasted 1 hour. Because of the longer lunch period, the employee must sign in/out on this day to document the extra time taken. The employee may either choose to work longer on this or another day to make up the extra ½ hour. On whatever day the employee chooses to make up time, he/she must sign in/out on that day to show when and how (e.g., work time, leave, or credit hours taken) the time was made up.
First-40-hour employees are not prevented from having a meal period. If circumstances prevent an employee from taking a meal period, then the time spent eating may be considered as part of the tour for that day.
Example: Pilots and dispersers in flight status will not be charged with a formal meal period even though they may be able to eat their meal while in the air. On the ground, however, during normal meal hours for the duty station, these employees will be required to take the meal period.
|Tours of Duty Without Meal Periods||
Tours of duty without a meal period are established only in unusual circumstances. Typical conditions which could warrant the establishment of such tours are: