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California Break and Lunch Law

An employer must provide nonexempt employees with meal and rest periods as provided for in the Labor Code and the applicable wage orders. An employer need not affirmatively police employees to ensure they are taking their meal and rest periods but must make them available to the employees nevertheless. Typically, an employee is entitled to a paid 10-minute, duty-free rest period for every four hours worked, “or major fraction thereof.” That means for a shift of greater than two hours, but less than six hours, an employee must be provided one paid 10-minute, duty-free rest period. For shifts longer than six hours, but less than 10 hours, an employee must be provided two paid 10-minute, duty-free rest periods. If an employer fails to authorize and permit an employee to take these breaks, then the employee is entitled to recover the penalty described below.

Did You Get Paid For All The Time You Worked?

An employer must also provide an employee with an unpaid, 30-minute, duty-free meal period for every five hours worked. An employee and an employer can waive this requirement, by mutual consent, only if the shift is less than six hours. If the employee is not relieved of all duty for the full 30 minutes, then the employee must be paid for the time spent actually working, as well as the penalty described below.

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

Oftentimes, meal and rest period violations occur in combination with other violations of the Labor Code.

Were You Denied Meal And Rest Periods?

If you were not permitted to take meal and rest periods, contact our San Francisco office for a free consultation with an experienced attorney. The lawyers at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP have significant expertise representing current and former employees in wage and hour cases.

To schedule a free initial consultation to see if you have a case, in California, call us at 415-445-0900 or contact us online.