Policy Demanding Staff Stay in the Building on Break Slammed As 'Bull****'

The internet has slammed a supervisor after an employee shared that they had been told they were not allowed to leave their workplace during their break.

A Reddit user shared the story on the popular r/antiwork forum on Thursday where it has received 20,000 upvotes and thousands of comments.

In the post, the employee wrote: "My supervisor at Carl's Jr. is telling everyone that we can't leave the building during our 30-minute lunch break."

They continued: "Just before I was leaving work today my supervisor told everyone that she forgot to mention that the new district manager doesn't want anyone leaving the building while on their lunch break. I kinda just looked at her for a second because I thought she was joking, she reassured everyone that she wasn't and that this is a new rule."

Man sits eating lunch on step
A stock image of a man sitting eating his lunch on a step outside of a building. The internet has slammed a supervisor after an employee shared that they had been told they were not allowed to leave their workplace during their break. Noel Hendrickson/Getty Images

A spokesperson for Carl's Jr. told Newsweek: "Carl's Jr. has both company-owned and franchised locations. While we can't speak for independently owned and operated franchisees, Carl's Jr. Restaurants LLC's company policy states that employees in California are relieved of all of their duties during meal periods and rest breaks and are allowed to leave the premises.

"Any employee at a company-owned restaurant who believes there has been a violation of this policy should immediately report the matter to our Human Resources Department. Violations reported will be thoroughly investigated, and corrective action taken where appropriate."

In the U.S., 25 states have laws regarding breaks. Problems with breaks, from what you can do during a break to whether you get them at all, often lie in the fact that there is no federal law requiring your boss to give you a break.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) covers most types of employees and has particular notes when it comes to break requirements. It does not prohibit employers from requiring workers to stay on premises during their break time.

However, depending on the application of a policy like this, the requirement to stay on-site during a break could mean that the employee is considered as "on call" and therefore compensable.

According to the FLSA Hours Worked section: "An employee who is required to remain on his or her employer's premises or so close thereto that he or she cannot use the time effectively for his or her own purposes is working while on-call," but they do specify that: "It is not necessary that an employee be permitted to leave the premises if he is otherwise completely freed from duties during the meal period."

They also explain that, for example: "Some employees are required to remain on the employer's premises or at a location controlled by the employer. One example is a hospital employee who must stay at the hospital in an on-call room. While on-call, the employee is able to sleep, eat, watch television, read a book, etc. but is not allowed to leave the hospital.

"Other employees are able to leave their employer's premises but are required to stay within so many minutes or so many miles of the facility and be accessible by telephone or by pager. An example of this type of employee is an apartment maintenance worker who has to carry a pager while on call and must remain within a specified number of miles of the apartment complex."

"Ask for a written copy of that policy," suggested one Reddit user in the comments. While another asked: "How are you supposed to get a healthy lunch if you can't leave the building?"

"This happened to me at a job once," shared another commenter. "So I fired up a joint in the employee cafeteria. I was fired on the spot. 10/10 would do again."

"You can't leave the building?! Bull****. Just pretend you forgot she told you, then if they say it again just chuckle and ignore them," said another Reddit user.

Newsweek has reached out to the Reddit poster for comment.