Under California Labor Laws, employers are legally required to give all employees at least 30 minutes for a meal break after working no more than five hours. What’s more, after 4 hours of work, employers are also legally required to give all employees a ten-minute paid rest break.
These “meal break laws” are some of the least understood by employees and often the most violated by employers. Some less-than-ethical employers will use that lack of understanding on the employee’s part to deny them the breaks to which they are legally entitled. They may threaten to keep them from reporting it or fighting these violations by telling them they will be fired, deported or their hours will be cut.
That doesn’t go over well with lawmakers in California though. The meal break laws are there for a reason and ALL employees are entitled to them. The law frowns on denied work breaks and it can lead to serious legal consequences for the employer who is guilty of these infractions.
If you aren’t getting the breaks that the law entitles you to, then you need a meal and rest breaks attorney to fight for your rights. There may even be compensation coming to you for unpaid wages if you have had to work through your breaks or you were not paid for your breaks.
Isn’t it time you got what you deserved?
What Workers Are Covered Under California’s Meal Break Laws?
Every day millions of individuals go to work. Some are salaried. Some are paid by the hour. Some are paid by the day. Some workers are directly hired by the company and others are contractors. Some employees are native to the United States and some are not. Some employees have legal documentation to live and work in the United States while others don’t.
This means that the undocumented worker is just as entitled to meal and rest breaks as the worker who was born in the US and is a legal citizen as long as their employer does not fall into one of the exempt categories.
Some of the types of employees who are covered by the California meal break laws include:
- Full-time employees
- Part-time employees
- Contract employees
- Employees paid by the day or another schedule
- Legal US citizens
- Undocumented workers
- Workers in the US illegally
- Temporary employees
- Seasonal employees
If an individual is hired to work for an employer, they are covered under California labor laws.
The specific types of coverage may vary depending on circumstances and contracts between the employer and employee, but there are certain basic rights that all employees are entitled to enjoy. Often this includes meal and rest breaks.
What are the Meal Break Laws for CA?
California law states that employers are required to give their employees meal and rest breaks after working for a certain amount of hours. Employees who work five hours or less are not entitled to a meal break. If they work more than five hours then they get a meal break, but if they are only working six hours or less, they can legally waive their right to a meal break. An employee who works more than ten hours but less than 12 hours in a single shift is entitled to two meal breaks. They can legally waive one of those meal breaks, but not both.
Under most circumstances, employees are permitted to take their meal break away from the worksite. There are some scenarios where they can require their employees to stay at the worksite for a break. This is often seen with jobs like security guards who cannot leave their post because there is no one to relieve them or a clerk at a convenience store who is working alone overnight. They can’t just close the store while they take their meal break.
However, the employer and employee must have a written agreement regarding on-duty meal breaks and the employee retains the right to revoke it at any time. On-duty meal breaks are paid breaks but if the employee misses a break they are not entitled to premium payments.
If an employer requires employees to remain on site for their meal breaks, then certain requirements must be met:
- The employer is required to provide the employees with a suitable place to eat
- The employees must be paid even if they are not “on duty” during their meal break
- If the shift begins or ends at or between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am, and the meal break occurs during this time, the employer is required to provide:
- A sheltered place for the meal break where the employee can consume their food and/or drink
- Facilities for keeping hot food and/or drink or facilities for heating food and/or drink
California law also provides for rest breaks every four hours or “major fraction” which is more than two hours. In other words, an employee working a seven-hour shift will be entitled to two breaks. One break will occur within the first four hours and the second break occurs during the “major fraction” of three hours.
Employees who are non-exempt and work fewer than three and a half hours are not legally entitled to rest breaks.
A rest break under California law is ten minutes. This is a paid break. They must be ten uninterrupted, consecutive minutes where the employee is relieved of all his or her duties. The employer is required to provide employees with suitable facilities for these breaks and they must be separate from the bathroom. The employer is restricted from requiring employees on break to be on-call or to remain on-site.
Contact Us For Assistance Today
If you feel that you are not being given the rest or meal breaks that you are legally entitled to then you should consult with a rest and meal breaks lawyer.
At Lawyers for Employee and Consumer Rights, we will fight for you. If you are in Los Angeles, San Diego, Burbank, Bakersfield, or any of the surrounding areas and you feel you are not getting the meal or rest breaks that you should, call us first.
We will review your case for free and give you an honest assessment of what action you can legally take as well as how we can help you proceed. Don’t wait to see if the situation will sort itself out. Most of the time it doesn’t and you will end up being cheated out of a lot of breaks and wages that you deserve.
Don’t just sit down and take it. The law says you don’t have to.
Employment law is very complex and it can be confusing when you are trying to figure out what your rights are under the law. Talking to a rest breaks attorney can help you decide if you have a case and what your compensation might be.
When you are looking for employment rights lawyers, rest and meal break lawyers, or overtime attorneys in California look no further. We will fight for you.