Meal & Rest Breaks As A California Employee

Dec 6, 2022 | Employment

Employees across the state of California are taken advantage of (both knowingly and unknowingly) by their employers every day. While state and federal labor laws are put in place to protect employees, there are still unlawful employers who slip through the cracks and get away with treating their employees wrongfully. One important aspect of California labor laws include employees having access to full and fair meal and rest breaks. Included below are the laws regarding these periods, as well as some additional rules, regulations and common questions surrounding meal and rest breaks. 

What Are The Meal/Rest Laws? 

Under California labor laws, non-exempt employees are entitled to a 30 minute meal break and two paid 10 minute rest breaks in an 8-hour workday. If the workday is 6 hours or less, then the meal period can be mutually waived by both the employer and employee. A second meal period is required if an employee works more than 10 hours in a workday. If the workday is 12 hours or less, then the meal period can be mutually waived by both the employer and employee, as long as the first meal period was not already waived. A rest period is not required for any employee who works a shift under 3 and a half hours.  

Are Breaks & Rests Paid Or Unpaid?

Meal periods are considered “on-duty,” if an employee is not released of all responsibilities during their meal period. If this is the case, they are to be compensated during meal periods. “On-duty,” meal periods, however, should only be permitted when an employee cannot be relieved of all duties, and when the employee and employer have a written agreement regarding on-the-job meal breaks. 

Rules & Regulations

One thing employees and their employers are often unaware of is the rules and regulations surrounding meal/rest breaks. The following are some of the state’s guidelines for both employees and their employers to follow:

  • If an employer requires an employee to stay at work during their meal break, the break must be paid. 
  • If an employer does not provide a meal period, they are required to pay one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate for each workday a meal break is not provided.
  • Employees who are required to eat at work, must have a suitable and designated place to do so. 
  • If a meal period falls between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., there must be a place to secure hot food and beverages or to heat food or beverages, in addition to a designated and suitable place to eat. 

Common Questions Regarding California Meal/Rest Break Laws

Q: Can I skip or waive my meal/rest breaks?

A: While employers are required by law to provide the appropriate amount and length of breaks to you, you are not required by law to take them. You and your boss can mutually agree to waive or skip your meal or rest breaks as you see fit. You cannot, however, waive both meal breaks if you were to work more than 10 hours in a work day. You must take one of the available breaks in a 10-12 hour shift. 

Q: If I skip or waive a break, can I use that time to leave work early?

A: No, you are not entitled to leave early if you choose to work through your meal or rest break. 

Q: Can my employer require that I stay on work premises during my break?

A: Yes, your employer can require you to stay at work during your breaks, but it must be a paid break. 

Options If Your Employer Doesn’t Provide You With A Meal/Rest Break

You may be wondering what your options are and if you can sue your employer if they are violating California’s meal and rest break laws. The answer is yes. If your employer isn’t granting you the appropriate amount of breaks for the appropriate amount of time, you reserve the right to send a claim against your employer to the Labor Commissioner’s Office or obtain legal help to sue your employer.

There is a statute of limitations for how long you are able to make a claim against an employer. The state of California grants you 3 years to file a claim regarding violation of meal or rest break laws.

What Southern California Attorneys A.P.C Can Do For You

If your employer is withholding the breaks you are entitled to by law, that is not okay! They are unlawfully taking advantage of you, and you deserve compensation. At Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C. we have over 60 years of combined experience fighting for justice on behalf of California employees who are wronged by unlawful employers. Our highly-skilled, seasoned legal team is equipped with the knowledge and background needed to win your case. We will evaluate your claim, develop a strategy to hold your employer accountable and help you secure monetary damages for the wrongdoing that you’ve faced. No matter how complex your case may be, we are prepared to help you! 

Our firm…

  • Has 60 years of combined experience
  • Is multilingual
  • Has been ranked in the top 10% of California law firms
  • Is equipped to help you make strategic choices
  • And more!

Our Pricing

We are proud to offer our services on a contingency fee basis. This means our attorneys can help you file a claim and help you build a strong case against your employer for no upfront or out of pocket costs. We only get paid if and when we win your case. Once your case is settled, we are paid via a percentage of the settlement amount. It is risk-free to pursue legal representation with Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C. on your side, even if you are an undocumented immigrant – the law still protects you!

Have your meal or rest breaks been withheld by your employer? Are you missing wages from a break that should’ve been paid? Call Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C. to get the legal guidance you need and deserve. Schedule a free consultation now!

Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C.

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