For company lunch and learn sessions, should the company provide lunch to employees, or should employees bring their own lunch?

Things to keep in mind: 1. Lunch time is unpaid 2. The session in mandatory 3. Session occur once a month

I feel that the company should provide lunch for mandatory lunch and learn sessions, especially if it benefits the company. I have a feeling some companies are just cheap, and I don't think it is fair to make employees provide their own lunch during these mandatory sessions.

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    We can't simply validate your opinions, Peter. A company can demand that you attend training sessions, and they may or may not provide you with incentives to do so. In some cultures the idea of providing you with a lunch would be laughed out of the room. So please realize that your question is incredibly subjective, and that we can't answer it. – AndreiROM May 26 '16 at 17:17
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    If it's mandatory, then it can't be unpaid. HR directors everywhere just gritted their teeth and inhaled sharply when they read that line. – Wesley Long May 26 '16 at 17:20
  • If it is mandatory, pay them and schedule it NOT during lunch. Then you don't have to provide lunch. Most lunch and learns are voluntary, that's why it's okay to be on the employee's own time and no lunch usually provided. – TechnicalEmployee May 26 '16 at 17:22
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    @WesleyLong Employees involved in "lunch and learn" meetings are almost certainly exempt so lunch would only be unpaid in the sense that all overtime is unpaid for them and they're expected to clock 40 hours a week, not counting lunch breaks. – Lilienthal May 26 '16 at 17:36
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    @Lilienthal very invalid assumption regarding all employees who would attend a lunch and learn being salary exempt employees. I have attended several as both hourly and salary non-exempt. – Dopeybob435 May 26 '16 at 17:45

For starters, if attendence is mandatory, employees should be paid for attending. Of course, if everyone is on salary ("Exempt" in U.S. terminology), it just rolls into all the other unpaid activities so many people have. However, employees who are paid hourly should be on the clock for such an event. If the employer isn't paying for your time, then that time is supposed to be yours to do with as you wish.

As for who pays for lunch: My opinion is that the company should provide it, since it is gaining benefit from these activities. This goes double if you are supposed to be off the clock during the Lunch & Learn.

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    I agree with your comments. A few things to add, depending on where you live, there's rules regarding unpaid breaks that are required based on hours worked. A mandatory lunch and learn is working time so the employee isn't technically getting a break, They could still request that they get their unpaid break. Whether on salary or hourly pay, a lunch and learn, if mandatory, would be working time. If paid hourly they should be paid for this time. If on salary, they should be allowed to still take their normal lunch break if they want, or leave early that day. – Marc May 26 '16 at 17:31
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    I've asked my employer to provide lunch, and told them if not, just send me a summary of the lunch and learn meeting so I can read it during working hours at not waste my lunch. Thanks! – Peter May 26 '16 at 19:28
  • @Peter training can be a benefit. Many employees would happily attend free training on their own time if it's something that helps them learn and grow. Your attitude strikes me as short-sighted. You are potentially offending your superiors for very little upside. – mcknz May 26 '16 at 20:25
  • @mcknz especially since i assume OP eats anyway during that lunch time... – Patrice May 26 '16 at 23:32
  • I'm okay with offending my superiors. If I was managing these session, keeping emloyees happy and petty thoughts like free lunch for training shouldn't even cross their minds. – Peter May 27 '16 at 17:32

If you call a mandatory meeting of any kind at lunch time, and don't provide a free lunch, here is what will happen: your employees will take their lunch either before or after the meeting. They will also complain.

Even in the US, and even for exempt workers, it is usually a legal requirement that employees are given meal breaks. It's reasonable to ask them to take early or late meal breaks occasionally, It is not reasonable to ask them to to skip a meal, and if they choose not to bring a lunch that can be eaten in a meeting you can't force that either.

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