If someone works part time and is paid hourly, is it ok to write down a lunch break as part of his or her hours? Especially in the case that someone is only working 4-5 hours a day total, and not a regular 9 hour work day (and therefore can wait until after to eat, or the lunch hour would add a significant portion to the total work hours for that day).

  • 3
    Why would you think it would be permissible? Please edit in your motivation, so we can give better answers. Thanks.
    – Scimonster
    Feb 13 '15 at 6:41
  • 5
    I would advise you to clarify the terms of your employment with your employer.
    – Fred
    Feb 13 '15 at 7:28
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    I think that the permissibility depends on the rules defined by the job, itself. Most workplaces in the U.S, AFAIK, require everyone to take a 1 hour lunch break that is unpaid. Some will allow leaving early in lieu of not taking the break, but most want you to physically be at work 8 hours, but you get paid for only 7 per day. In short, if your workplace does NOT allow a paid lunch break, and you mark it down as paid, it's not just unethical - it's both a sin as well as "unlawful" b/c you're stealing.
    – DanF
    Feb 13 '15 at 14:57
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this has nothing to do with Judaism. This has to do with an individual's agreement with their employer. Feb 13 '15 at 16:13
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    But halacha has nothing to say about this case, @GershonGold? ....the answer should be "whatever the boss says," if that's what the halacha is.
    – MTL
    Feb 13 '15 at 16:27

When dealing with monetary issues, the Halacha usually is כמנהג המדינה, i.e. whatever common practice is in that specific location, unless specified otherwise in the worker's contract.

In your specific example, סימן של"א - השוכר פועלים ינהג עמהם כמנהג המדינה in Choshen Mishpat would be closest:

There it says:

ב: מָקוֹם שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ לָזוּן, יָזוּן; לְסַפֵּק בִּגְרוֹגָרוֹת אוֹ בִּתְמָרִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶם, יְסַפֵּק; הַכֹּל כְּמִנְהַג הַמְּדִינָה. ‏

"Whether you have to provide your workers with food depends on local custom."

So whether you are allowed to take a lunch break depends on what local custom is for your type of work and your length and time of work.

Note, that if your work involves preparing food, then there are specific Halachot, irrelevant of local custom, as documented in סימן של"ז - דין אכילת פועל בשעת מלאכה, ממה אוכל או מתי אוכל

That Siman ends with a general Halacha concerning employees:

כ: מֻזְהָר הַפּוֹעֵל שֶׁלֹּא יְבַטֵּל מְעַט כָּאן וּמְעַט כָּאן, אֶלָּא חַיָּב לְדַקְדֵּק עַל עַצְמוֹ בַּזְּמַן, שֶׁהֲרֵי הִקְפִּידוּ עַל בְּרָכָה רְבִיעִית שֶׁל בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן שֶׁלֹּא יְבָרֵךְ אוֹתָהּ. וְכֵן חַיָּב לַעֲבֹד בְּכָל כֹּחוֹ, שֶׁהֲרֵי יַעֲקֹב הַצַּדִּיק אָמַר: כִּי בְּכָל כֹּחִי עָבַדְתִּי אֶת אֲבִיכֶן, (בְּרֵאשִׁית לא, ו) לְפִיכָךְ, נָטַל שְׂכָרוֹ אַף בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיִּפְרֹץ הָאִישׁ מְאֹד מְאֹד (בְּרֵאשִׁית ל, מג). ‏

A worker has to be careful not to waste time - even a few minutes here and there; he has to be punctual about his work hours - to the extent that we see that employees are exempt from reciting the 4th Bracha of Birkat HaMazon (so as not to waste time, as it's a Rabbinic enactment).

Similarly, he is expected to work with all his might (physical or mental) as we see that Yaakov Avinu said "I worked for [Lavan] with all my might". He was rewarded even in this world for his dedication, as it says "and he became extremely rich".

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