Meal and Rest Period Violations
Under the California Labor Code, California employers are required to give meal breaks to non-exempt employees. This means that each employer must relieve the employee of all duties during their meal break. Suppose an entitled employee is not provided a lawful meal break. In that case, the employer must compensate the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular pay rate for each day a meal break was not provided.
The following rules outline California’s meal and rest period regulations:
- Meal breaks cannot be shorter than 30 minutes.
- The first meal break must be taken before the end of the employee’s 5th hour of work.
- The second meal break must be taken before the end of the employee’s 10th hour of work.
- Meal breaks should be uninterrupted, and the employee must be completely relieved of all duty during the meal break.
- The employee should not be on-call during the meal break and is not required to carry a phone or walkie-talkie during the meal break.
- Employers can’t instruct employees on where to take their meal break, and employees are allowed to leave the premises for the meal break.
California gives employees the right to choose to work during their meal break. Here are a few exceptions to the meal break rules:
- Employees can choose to work through their meal break as long as they are not pressured to do so by their employer.
- Employees can voluntarily choose to work through their meal break if the employer has provided the meal break.
Rest Break Rules
California employers are required by The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) to provide non-exempt employees with off-duty rest breaks. During off-duty rest breaks, employers have to relieve their employees of all duties. If an entitled employee is not provided a lawful rest break, the employer must compensate the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular pay rate for each day a lawful rest break was not provided.
The following regulations outline California’s guidelines on lawful rest breaks:
- Generally and when practical, the 10-minute break should be taken in the middle of each 4 hour work period.
- Each 10-minute rest break must be consecutive, and the rest break cannot be interrupted or broken up into intervals.
- The employee must be completely relieved of all duty during the rest break and should not be on-call or be required to carry a phone or walkie-talkie during the break.
- An employee’s bathroom break does not count as a 10-minute rest break.
- Rest breaks don’t have to be provided before a meal break, but generally, one rest break should be provided before a meal break, and another should be provided after.
If you feel that you are not being permitted to take your meal or rest periods, contact a lawyer at Falakassa Law, P.C. We have handled missed meal and rest period class-action lawsuits over the years, and have valuable experience in holding employers accountable for their failure to provide meal and rest break periods.
Give us a call at 916-680-8486 to speak to an experienced employment lawyer.