Meal and Rest Break Violations

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Meal and Rest Break Violations

California law requires that employers provide non-exempt workers with a 30-minute, uninterrupted meal period for every 5 hours worked. An “uninterrupted meal period” means that you aren’t on-call, you don’t have to carry and respond to clients, you do not have to take phone calls, and you do not have to respond to work emails. It means you are free to do whatever you desire with that time. If you aren’t given an uninterrupted 30-minute meal break, your employer must pay you an extra hour’s wages for each violation.

The law also demands that employers provide their non-exempt employees with a rest break for every 4 hours of work. You should have a rest break after no more than 3.5 hours. For shifts of between 6 to 10 hours, employers must give at least two 10-minute rest periods. If you are not given an uninterrupted 10-minute rest break for up to 4 hours of work or two 10-minute rest breaks for shifts of between 6 and 10 hours, your employer must compensate you with an extra hour’s pay for each violation.

If the violation applies to a group or class of workers over a substantial period, then a class action may be appropriate. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you understand your meal and rest break rights in your workplace and ensure that employers provide you with what is required by law.

Our attorneys have extensive experience representing workers who have been denied their legally required meal or rest breaks. 

Asserting the Right to Meal and Rest Breaks

An employer must provide non-exempt employees with meal and rest periods in the Labor Code and the applicable wage orders. An employer need not affirmatively oversee workers to make sure they are taking their meal and rest breaks but must make them available to the workers nevertheless. Generally, an employee is entitled to a paid 10-minute, duty-free rest period for every four hours worked, “or major fraction thereof.” 

For a shift of more than two hours but less than six hours, a worker must be given a paid 10-minute, duty-free rest time. For shifts of more than six hours but less than 10 hours, a worker must be given two paid 10-minute, duty-free rest periods. If an employer fails to allow and permit an employee to take these rests, then the worker is allowed to recover the penalty described below.

Did You Receive Compensation for All the Time You Worked?

An employer must also give an employee an unpaid, 30-minute, duty-free meal break for every five hours worked. A worker and an employer can waive this requirement only if the shift is less than six hours. If the worker is not relieved of all duty for the full 30 minutes, the employee must be compensated for the time spent working and the penalty described below.

Suppose an employee is not provided meal and rest periods described herein. In that situation, the employer must compensate the employee with one hour of pay at the regular compensation rate for each such violation (i.e., one meal or one rest period violation per day).

Often, meal and rest period infringements happen in combination with other violations of the Labor Code.

Were You Denied a Meal or Rest Period? Contact Us Today

If you were not allowed to take meal and rest periods, contact us today for a free consultation with a qualified attorney. Our California employment lawyers have significant experience in representing current and former employees in wage and hour cases.


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