Missed Meal and Rest Breaks

OFF-DUTY MEAL BREAKS

California law requires employers to provide employees with an unpaid 30-minute meal break for shifts over 5 hours, and a second meal break for shifts over 10 hours. Employees may waive their first meal break for shifts that do not exceed six hours.

Employees are entitled to an additional hour of pay for every day the employer fails to provide a lawful meal break. To be a lawful meal break, employees must be free of all work duties for at least 30 minutes. Meal breaks are not lawful if employees are required to remain at work, be available to wait on customers or respond to calls, perform other work, or remain on “stand-by” during the break.

ON-DUTY MEAL BREAKS

Although California law requires employers to provide employees with meal breaks in which employees are completely relieved of all duties, there is one exception to that rule. If the nature of the work prevents employees from being able to leave for an off-duty break, the law allows employers to provide employees with paid, on-duty meal break. Employees must agree in writing to take an on-duty break.

Examples of work that may fall under this exception include: a single employee working a convenience store register during late hours or a security guard working alone in a remote location.

Employers sometimes require employees to take on-duty breaks even though the nature of work does not prevent the employee from being able to leave work for a meal break. For example, if a security works at a job site with 10 other guards, an on-duty meal break is not appropriate if the guards could easily relieve each other for breaks. If employers require employees to take paid on-duty breaks, even though the employers could easily provide off-duty breaks, then the employees are entitled to an additional hour of compensation for each day they were not provided the opportunity to take an off-duty break.

REST BREAKS

California law requires employers to give employees a10-minute rest break for every four hours worked. Employers must clearly communicate to employees that they are permitted to take rest breaks. Rest breaks must come as near as practicable to the middle of the four-hour period. And rest breaks cannot be grouped together or taken at the end of the day.

Employees are entitled to an additional hour of pay for each day they were not provided with any of their entitled rest breaks.

SEEK CONSULTATION

If your employer does not provide lawful meal or rest breaks, contact us for a free consultation.