Yes, in California, employees have the right to meal and rest breaks. If an employer doesn’t provide rest breaks and a lunch break as required by California law, employees may have grounds to pursue legal action.
- Meal Breaks:
- In California, non-exempt employees are generally entitled to a 30-minute unpaid meal break when working more than five hours in a workday. If the total workday is less than six hours, the California meal break can be waived by mutual consent of the employer and employee.
- Second Meal Break:
- If an employee works more than ten hours in a workday, they are entitled to a second 30-minute unpaid meal break, unless the total workday is 12 hours or less and the first meal break was not waived.
- California Rest Break Law:
- Non-exempt employees are generally entitled to a paid ten-minute rest break for every four hours worked. Rest break requirements state that a rest break should be provided in the middle of each work period, or as close to the middle of the shift as possible.
- Employee’s Right to Choose:
- Employees generally have the right to choose when to take their meal breaks, but employers are required to make a good faith effort to provide a meal and rest break at a suitable time.
- Penalties for Violations:
- If meal break requirements and rest break requirements are not upheld by an employer, a California employer may be subject to penalties. The penalty for a missed meal break is one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate for each workday that the meal break is not provided. The same penalty applies for missed rest breaks.
- Recording Meal and Rest Breaks:
- According to California labor law, employers are required to maintain accurate records of meal breaks provided and any waivers signed by employees.
If certain workers believe that their employer did not provided the required meal or rest breaks, or is in violation of rest break laws, they could take the following steps:
- Document the Meal and Rest Break Violations:
- Keep a record of instances where rest breaks and meal breaks were not provided or were interrupted. Make notice of the dates, times, and any other relevant details.
- Discuss the Issue with the Employer:
- Giving breaks is required by California employers. If an employer fails to recognize a rest period, paid rest break, or California meal break, it is worth bringing the issue to the attention of the employer to discuss concerns. It’s possible that the employer may not be aware of the rest break or meal breaks problem and may take action to fix it without the worker having to file a wage claim.
- File a Complaint:
- If the issue persists, workers can file a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). The DLSE is responsible for enforcing California labor laws of labor code section 512.
- Consult with an Meal and Rest Break Lawyer:
- If certain employees are not satisfied with the resolution of speaking directly with their California employers, or they have suffered financial losses due to the lack of break time, call the employment attorney team at Lawyers for Justice, PC (LFJ). LFJ isn’t afraid to go after big employers who do not provide meal breaks. The firm has filed class action suits for unpaid wages and meal and rest break violations and has recovered compensation for California workers. The attorney team can assess the specifics of each meal and rest break case to see if a violation occurred and guide employees on whether legal action may be appropriate.
California law, especially employment laws, can be complex, and the specifics of any situation regarding rest breaks and meal breaks can be difficult to understand. Consulting with an employment attorney can provide personalized advice based on the personal details of a case.
California Meal Breaks – FAQ
can an employer tell you where to take your meal and rest breaks? While it is not required, employers have the right to order employees to go on their meal and rest breaks. If an employee doesn’t listen, the employer has the right to discipline or terminate the employee for insubordination, according to California labor law.
can i sue my employer while still employed? There is no legal requirement that states an employee must be fired before filing a lawsuit against their employer.
can i leave the premises on my lunch break? During meal breaks, an employee must be relieved of all their job duties. Therefore, they are free to leave the work premises for a 30 minute meal break. As such, according to break laws, the employer is not required to pay the employee for a 30 minute meal break as long as the employee is relieved of all their work duties.
how early can i take my lunch break california? According to California meal break requirements, the first 30 minute meal break must be provided no later than the end of the employee’s fifth hour of work.
can i work 6 hours without a lunch break in california? Following meal break requirements is important in California. If employees work over 5 hours in a day, they are entitled to at least a 30 minute meal break that must start before the end of the fifth hour of their shift. HOWEVER, they can agree with their California employer to waive their meal break, as long as they do not work more than 6 hours in the workday.
is my employer required to give me a break? California law requires employers to provide employees meal and rest breaks during their work period. Unlike meal breaks, a ten minute rest break is still paid. If an employer is not allowing employees to take their sufficient breaks, the employee can reach out to an employment wage and hour lawyer to seek help and guidance. LFJ offers a free consultation for workers who need more information on rest break laws. Call (818) JUSTICE.
can employer make you take longer lunch to avoid overtime? It can be legal for an employer to ask an employee to leave early, come in late, or maybe take a longer meal or rest break to avoid overtime, as long as the hours worked in that week do not exceed 40.