Understanding Your Rest Break Rights

You work hard and you want to do your best at work. However, we all have our limits and need breaks. If you look at other countries, like Japan, you will see that there is a culture of “death by overwork” in which the physical and emotional strain of working non-stop has actually caused a lot of workers to die. In America, employees generally have legal protections from that; however, that doesn’t stop some employers from trying to overwork its employees.

If you are a “non-exempt” employee, California law mandates that employers allow you rest breaks. California’s Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order, Section 12 states that “every employer shall authorize and permit all employees to take rest periods, which insofar as practicable shall be in the middle of each work period.”

The wage orders look at work hours in four hour increments and authorize ten minutes of rest for each four hour block or “major fraction” of four hours. For example, an employee who works six hours has put in a four hour block and a two hour block, the latter of which is a “major fraction” of two hours. Therefore, the employee would be entitled to twenty minutes of rest during that six hour workday. At a minimum, an employee must be provided with ten minutes of rest if they work at least 3.5 hours in a day.

Periods of rest must be counted and fully paid as hours worked. In other words, an employer is legally prohibited from deducting from an employee’s wages based on their rest breaks.

What If My Employer Fails to Give Me a Rest Period?

The California Supreme Court has held that employers to not have a duty to make sure employees take their rest and meal breaks. Despite this, they still have a duty to follow the law and can be held accountable if they fail to do so. Under the Labor Code, if an employer failed to provide the legally mandated period of rest, “the employer shall pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each work day that the meal or rest period is not provided.”

You Need an Attorney

You have the right to take a break, and a failure to take breaks can actually be harmful to your health. If your employer is not giving you rest breaks, or is failing to pay you during those breaks, you need an attorney. If you feel like your employer is violating your rights, call Moss Bollinger. We take great pride in holding employers to task for workplace violations. We work on a contingency basis and collect no up front fees. Contact Moss Bollinger today by phone at 800-249-1175 for a free consultation or reach us online.