In California, employees who work more than five hours in a single workday are entitled to a meal period of at least thirty minutes. Employees are also entitled to a second meal period of at least thirty minutes if they work more than ten hours in a single workday. California enforces strict meal break regulations that employers must abide by.
Employees must be provided with “duty-free” meal periods in which they should be free to do whatever they please, free of interruption. This includes being allowed to leave the workplace if they desire
The first meal break must take place before the sixth hour of work begins. Employers are obligated to take this meal break very seriously and ensure compliance. Compliance with the law includes taking several steps such as:
If these conditions aren’t met, the employer must compensate the employee for the meal break.
The second meal break must take place before the end of the employee’s 10th hour of work.
The employee has the option of waiving a second meal break in mutual agreement with the employer only if:
Paid on-shift meal breaks are permitted under California law, but only in very limited circumstances. Certain requirements must be met and a contract must be signed by both the employer and the employee for paid on-duty meal breaks. These requirements include:
Employers must authorize and permit 10-minute breaks for each four-hour block worked by a non-exempt employee. An employee who works between 3.5 to 6 hours is entitled to one 10-minute break, and those who work between 6 to 10 hours are entitled to two 10-minute breaks.
Employers must compensate employees for each 10-minute break. However, employers are under no obligation to schedule these breaks at specific times. California suggests allowing 10-minute breaks during the middle of each four-hour period of work.
Employers that fail to give adequate break time to their employees face serious consequences in California. Courts have opened employers up to major penalties even if the meal and rest breaks were unintentionally impeded. Here are a few examples of past court findings.
California courts have ruled that employees are owed one hour of wages for every meal and rest period missed. Employees are allowed to claim this as backpay for a three-year rolling period.
An employee is entitled to one hour worth of wages for every 10-minute break disallowed by the employer. Again, this compensation is valid for a three-year period.
Employees who miss both a meal break and a 10-minute rest break may be owed two hours worth of wages per violation. An experienced wage and hour attorney can help you fight for everything that you’re owed.
Not receiving the proper meal and rest breaks at work is unjust and can negatively affect your productivity. If your employer has denied you the proper meal and rest breaks during work, reach out to the employment lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers. Our experienced team will help and guide you through every step of your case. We will fight for your justice and help you obtain maximum compensation.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We handle our cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you only pay us if we get compensation for you. You can reach our legal team 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-247-9235 or emailing [email protected].
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