Meal and Rest Violation
California wage and hour laws require employees to receive a rest break for every four (4) hours that an employee works. Also, an employee is allowed to take a meal break if they work more than five (5) hours in a day. If a company fails to provide meal and rest breaks to employees, they can be held responsible for damages including one hour of pay for each break that was missed or interrupted.California Meal and Rest Break Requirements Meal Breaks
The timing and length of meal breaks in California are set forth in Section 512 of the California Labor Code as well as in the California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders under Section 11. The requirements are pretty straight forward:
- An employee who works more than five (5) hours in a day is entitled to a thirty (30) minute meal break. This meal break has to be uninterrupted.
- If an employee works more than ten (10) hours in a day they have to be provided with a second thirty (30) minute meal break.
It is important to note that an employee can waive the first meal break if they are not going to work more than six (6) hours in the day. They can also waive the second meal break if the workday will not be longer than twelve (12) hours and they did not waive the first meal break. Also, keep in mind that a meal break is not required to be paid time.Rest Breaks
Uninterrupted rest breaks are also provided for under California labor laws. An employee must be provided with a ten (10) minute uninterrupted rest break for every four (4) hours that they work in a day. These breaks are required to be paid time for the employee. If an employee works less than 3 ½ hours during the workday, they are not required to be provided a rest period.What does “Uninterrupted” Mean When Referring to Meal or Rest Breaks?
“Uninterrupted” simply means that the employee enjoys the entire meal or rest break without interruptions. If an employee is given a meal period but still has to answer the phone during that time period, this would not be considered an “uninterrupted” meal period. In a lot of cases we find violations of the meal and rest break laws when employees are required to work alone such as at convenience stores or during night shifts where there are no other employees available to cover for the employee while on break.Are There Exceptions to the California Meal and Rest Break Requirements?
As with many labor laws, there are a few exceptions where employees do not have to be provided with meal or rest breaks. First, meal and rest breaks are only applicable to non-exempt employees. Non-exempt employees can include white-collar employees, independent contractors, or unionized employees in certain industries with collective bargaining agreements that provide a different schedule.
There are also situations where an employee can waive meal periods. The waiver must be mutual between the parties and agreed to in writing. It is important to discuss this with a lawyer during an initial consultation.What Damages are Recoverable in a Meal or Rest Break Case?
Employees can recover one hour of pay (called premium pay) for each break that they were not allowed to take. This means that if you worked for an employer for 75 days and were never provided with a meal break, you would be owed 75 hours at your regular rate of pay. Obviously, this can add up quickly, especially in a case involved numerous employees that are filed as a class action.Get Help From a San Diego Meal and Rest Break Lawyer
Our office has successfully handled individual and class action cases involving meal and rest break violations. We offer free, confidential consultations to all potential clients in employment matters. There is never a fee unless we win your case at trial or obtain a settlement.
For more information or to speak to a labor lawyer about your case, call us at (619) 377-4660.