California Lunch Law

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Did you know that California enforces a law that offers non-exempt workers an entitlement of a 30 minute uninterrupted meal break for those who work more than 5 hours?

The California labor law for lunch breaks is much more convenient than the set standard of federal labor law. For example, per 4 hours of labor, you are entitled to a 10-minute uninterrupted break as well. Many are not aware of their rights due to various circumstances. 

Therefore, if your supervisor does not recognize or comply with California’s meal and rest break law requirements, then the employer must pay the employee an extra hour of pay for a meal and/or rest break violation, and an extra hour of pay for each day there was a violation of the California labor law. 

To provide a better perspective of California meal break laws, we have assembled a few key points that may ease your understanding:

California Rest Break Requirements

  • Supervisors must provide a rest break of at least 10 uninterrupted minutes.
  • Rest breaks must be paid under the employer for the employee
  • If worked for at least 3.5 hours in a work day, the employee is entitled to a second rest break. Though if an employee works longer than 10 hours, then the supervisor must provide a third rest break.
  • Ideally, rest breaks must be set at the middle of the working hour timeframe. For example, if you work 8 hours, then your meal break should be at the 4-hour mark. While, your rest break shall take place 2 hours before and after your meal break. 
  • Your boss does not have the right to require you to remain on the premises of the workplace during rest or meal breaks. 

California Meal Break Law Requirements

  • If you work more than 5 hours in a given day, you have the right to a meal break of at LEAST 30 minutes, which must start before the end of the 5th hour of your shift. However, you may waive the meal break if you do not work more than 6 hours in that day.
  • If you work over 10 hours in a day, then you are entitled to a second meal break of at least 30 minutes or more. Though, you may choose to waive the second meal if you did not work 12 hours or more.
  • You have the right to choose however you like to spend your break, since it is your uninterrupted moment.
  • It is illegal to be required to work during any required meal break per Code 512 of the California Labor Law.  

IMPORTANT: Rest breaks and meal breaks are to be kept and treated separately. Your employer does not hold the right to give a single 1-hour break to combine a meal and rest breaks together. If this is the case, you have the right to act now against illegal employer activities. 

Can I Sue My Employer for Violating California Meal Break and Rest Break Law?

Yes, you are eligible to sue your employer if they are violating the California Meal Break and Rest Break laws. In some cases, your employer may deny the accusation of withholding time for meal breaks and rest breaks. If this is the case for you, notify your HR representative or take action into your hands. 

For meal and rest break violations, contact EJLG Firm to learn more about your situation. 

Next articleWhat Is California Workers’ Compensation & Why Should I Care?
Parham has been in the Tax Industry for almost his entire career. He graduated from Pepperdine University School of Law, with an emphasis in Tax and Conflict Resolution. Parham is certified to practice law in front of the California State Supreme Court, Federal District Court, and US Tax Court. He specializes in navigating through IRS practices to maximize solutions and get the best results for the firm’s clients.

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