U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Jun 07, 2023

§ 655.173 - Setting meal charges; petition for higher meal charges.

(a) Meal charges. An employer may charge workers up to $14.00 per day for providing them with three meals. The maximum charge allowed by this paragraph (a) will be changed annually by the same percentage as the 12-month percentage change for the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers for Food between December of the year just concluded and December of the year prior to that. The annual adjustments will be effective on the date of their publication by the OFLC Administrator in the Federal Register. When a charge or deduction for the cost of meals would bring the employee's wage below the minimum wage set by the FLSA at 29 U.S.C. 206,the.S.C. 203(m), including the recordkeeping requirements found at 29 CFR 516.27.

(b) Petitions for higher meal charges. The employer may file a petition with the CO to request approval to charge more than the applicable amount set under paragraph (a) of this section.

(1) Filing a higher meal charge request. To request approval to charge more than the applicable amount set under paragraph (a) of this section, the employer must submit the documentation required by either paragraph (b)(1)(i) or (ii) of this section. A higher meal charge request will be denied, in whole or in part, if the employer's documentation does not justify the higher meal charge requested.

(i) Meals prepared directly by the employer. Documentation submitted must include only the cost of goods and services directly related to the preparation and serving of meals, the number of workers fed, the number of meals served, and the number of days meals were provided. The cost of the following items may be included in the employer's charge to workers for providing prepared meals: food; kitchen supplies other than food, such as lunch bags and soap; labor costs that have a direct relation to food service operations, such as wages of cooks and dining hall supervisors; fuel, water, electricity, and other utilities used for the food service operation; and other costs directly related to the food service operation. Charges for transportation, depreciation, overhead, and similar charges may not be included. Receipts and other cost records for a representative pay period must be retained and must be available for inspection for a period of 3 years.

(ii) Meals provided through a third party. Documentation submitted must identify each third party that the employer will engage to prepare meals, describe how the employer will fulfill its obligation to provide three meals per day to workers through its agreement with the third party, and document the third party's charge(s) to the employer for the meals to be provided. Neither the third party's charge(s) to the employer nor the employer's meal charge to workers may include a profit, kick back, or other direct or indirect benefit to the employer, a person affiliated with the employer, or to another person for the employer's benefit. Receipts and other cost records documenting payments made to the third party that prepared the meals and meal charge deductions from employee pay must be retained for the period provided in § 655.167(b) and must be available for inspection by the CO and WHD during an investigation.

(2) Effective date and scope of validity of a higher meal charge approval. The employer may begin charging the higher rate upon receipt of approval from the CO, unless the CO sets a later effective date in the decision, and after disclosing to workers any change in the meal charge or deduction. A favorable decision from the CO is valid only for the meal provision arrangement documented under paragraph (b)(1) of this section and the approved higher meal charge amount. If the approved meal provision arrangement changes, the employer may charge no more than the maximum permitted under paragraph (a) of this section until a new petition for a higher meal charge based on the new arrangement is approved.

(3) Appeal rights. In the event the employer's petition for a higher meal charge is denied in whole or in part, the employer may appeal the denial. Appeals will be filed with the Chief ALJ, pursuant to § 655.171.