Non-Granted Rest And Meal Breaks
California requires employers to offer both a meal break and paid rest breaks.
California requires employers to provide a minimum of a 30-minute meal break once the employee has worked five hours. An employer does not have to pay an employee for this time and most meal breaks are unpaid. Also, if the employee’s workday is completed in six hours or less, the employee may consent to waive his or her right to a meal break.
An employee who works ten hours or more is entitled to a second 30-minute unpaid meal break. If the entire workday does not exceed 12 hours, the employee has the option of waiving his or her right to a second meal break. However, an employee may not waive two meal breaks in one day. Labor Code Section 512.
If the nature of the job prevents employees from taking a break from all duties, employers have the option of providing an on-duty meal period. However, this time must be paid, and the employee must agree to the on-duty break, in writing.
California also requires employers to provide rest breaks to their employees. Employers must allow employees to take a paid ten-minute rest break for every four hours (or major fraction) of work. Breaks are not required for employees who total daily work time is less than three-and-a-half hours.
In 2012, the California Supreme Court found that employers have met their meal break obligation if they relieve employees of all duties for half an hour and allow employees to leave the worksite. Employers may not pressure employees to work during their meal break, but they are not required to police employees to make sure no one works during a break.
If your employer is not granting you or your co-workers the proper paid rest periods, call our office at (424) 380-6662 or fill out the form here to schedule a free initial consultation.
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