October 22, 2013

Am I Entitled to Meal Periods & Rest Breaks?

Employees often ask:

  • ?When are we entitled to meal periods and rest breaks??
  • ?Are we entitled to meal periods and rest breaks??
  • ?How many of these are we entitled to??

Do you know what the law requires?

Under California labor laws, an employee is entitled to at least a 30-minute meal period for every 5 hours the employee works. However, if the employee only works 6 hours per day, the employee and employer can mutually agree to waive the meal period.

A common misconception regarding meal periods is that if an employee is ?on the clock? or working and still allowed to have their meal period, the employer is complying with the law. This is INCORRECT. In order to have a valid meal period meeting California labor law requirements, the employee must be relieved of all duties during the meal period. There are certain professions which are exempt from this rule and for which on-duty meal periods are allowed. To determine whether your job fits this exemption, consult us.

Employers CANNOT force you to give up your meal period just because you are busy or have a lot of work to do or have no one to cover for you. This is illegal and if it is happening at your place of employment, you need to immediately contact us. We will assess your situation and determine whether or not you have a claim.

Many employees also believe that rest breaks are optional and employers do not have to provide them. This is INCORRECT. Under California labor laws, an employee MUST be given one 10-minute rest break for every 4 hours work or for every ?major fraction? thereof. Thus, if you are working an 8 or 9 hour day, you are entitled to two 10-minute rest breaks.

These rest breaks are IN ADDITION to standard bathroom breaks that must be allowed by the employer. As with meal periods, an employer cannot force an employee to work during their rest break or deny a rest break because the employee is ?busy?.

California labor laws allow employees to recover 1 hour of the employee?s regular rate of pay for each missed meal period or rest break.

If you are not being treated accordance with these legal provisions by your employer, we can help you become properly compensated for all such infractions in the past 3 (and in some instances 4) years.

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