California Employee Meal and Break Requirements

employee meal lawsCalifornia Employee Meal and Break Requirements

A significant portion of civil action and Labor Commissioner disputes between employees and employers in California are caused by employers’ failure to comply with the rules regarding required breaks for meals and rest during the work day.

To guarantee compliance with these rules and prevent any legal action, businesses must be aware of California’s standards for break periods. A Lawyer can help you ensure you are in compliance with the rules regarding required breaks.

What Are the California Requirements for Meal Breaks?

If an employee works more than five hours in a workday, the employer is required under California Labor Code Section 512 to give them a 30-minute meal break. The lunch break may be unpaid and must be taken prior to the fifth hour of the workday. As long as their workday doesn’t exceed six hours, an employee has the option to forego the required meal break.

An employee is entitled to two 30-minute lunch breaks if they work more than 10 hours a day. If the following two requirements are satisfied, the employee may forego the second lunch break:

The workday does not go more than 12 hours, and the employee did not skip their first meal break.

Employers are not allowed to make their staff work during mealtimes under the California Labor Code. Additionally, the rule mandates that companies keep track of when staff members take their lunch breaks.

What Are California’s Requirements for Rest Breaks?

Every four hours worked, or “major fraction thereof,” in a workday entitles an employee to a 10-minute rest break. Rest periods are regarded as paid time and must be included in calculating an employee’s time worked. The rest period should begin in the middle of the work period, if possible.

If an employee works fewer than 3 1/2 (three and a half) hours in a workday, rest breaks are not necessary according to California law.

Who Is Eligible for Meals and Rest Periods?

Non-exempt employees are required under California law to take food and rest breaks. If an employee satisfies the following requirements, they are often regarded as exempt:

The employee consistently uses discretion and independent judgment in carrying out their job obligations; they spend more than half of their working day undertaking managerial, intellectual, or creative work; and their monthly income is at least double the California minimum wage for full-time employment.

Independent contractors working in California are likewise exempt from the meal and rest break restrictions.

Can Your Employees File a Lawsuit Against You for Not Providing Meals and Rest Periods?

Following the California Labor Code, employees may bring a lawsuit against their employers if they are denied meal or rest breaks. Every infringement will accrue as an additional hour of compensation at the worker’s hourly rate.

A worker would be entitled to 200 hours of pay at their usual rate if they were denied meal and rest breaks for 100 days of their job, for instance. 200 hours of salary at the employee’s hourly rate of $14 is $2,800.


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