Update, July 29.  5:29 p.m. EDT.   Please note that the two-week delay through Saturday, August 13, pertains only to the donning and doffing rule involving FSIS inspectors’ walking time during the lunch break.

The National Chicken Council, the American Meat Institute, and the National Meat Association, sent  two joint letters to Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Administrator Al Almanza thanking FSIS for temporarily delaying for two weeks until August 14 the implementation of the new donning, doffing, and walk time regulations for federal meat and poultry inspectors.  However, both letters requested that  FSIS revise and clarify its June 30 instructions to field supervisors regarding the new donning and doffing regulations.

One letter requested that FSIS not consider the walk time from inspectors work stations to the lunch room and back to their work stations at the end of the lunch period as compensable time.  The letter pointed that the donning and doffing of a hard hat before and after the lunch period is optional and not a principal activity or otherwise compensable for any reason since.

In a separate letter to Almanza, the three organizations proposed another method of calculating the compensation for the inspectors for donning and doffing activities under FSIS’s new regulations that reduces the operational challenges posed by the current implementation policy.  The groups suggested that FSIS permit the addition of “plug time”–a predetermined, reasonable amount of time necessary to perform the changing of clothes, wash-up, and traveling activities to the inspectors’ normal workday, as an alternative to individualized “clock time” measurement of the inspectors’ donning and doffing activities.  The letter pointed out that this method has long been approved under the Fair Labor Standards Act and has many advantages including not disrupting plant schedules and operations; allowing inspectors to follow their accustomed work schedules; and simplifies, standardizes and automates the donning and doffing compensation in the FSIS payroll system.