Employees are humans, not machines. They need breaks to rest and eat during their long days at work. Employers are required by law to offer a certain number of breaks based on the employees’ hours. Here are the breaks that should be offered to you:
If you work longer than 5 hours, your employer is required to allow a 30-minute meal break and you must be given the chance to take this break by the fifth hour of your work day. If your work day is less than six hours long, you can choose not to take a meal break if both you and your employer agree to it.
If you work longer than 10 hours, you must be allowed a second meal break before or at the time of your tenth hour of work. You can only choose not to take a second meal break if your day is less than 12 hours long and you did not skip your first meal break. Again, both you and your employer must agree to it.
In addition to meal breaks, your employer must give you a 10-minute rest break for every four hours of your work day. So, if you work 8-hour days, you may take two rest breaks in addition to your meal break.
What Counts as “Allowing a Break”?
Employers are not obligated to keep track of whether you took your breaks for the day or not. They are, however, responsible for giving you reasonable opportunities to take breaks. This means there must be periods when you are freed from your duties. Also, your employer should never discourage you from taking a break.
What Happens if They Don’t Allow Breaks?
If your employer has refused to give you breaks or has not allowed you the proper break time based on your hours, they have violated your employee rights. Illegal break practices count as unpaid wages that you deserve to collect. Generally, an employer owes you an hour of pay for every day they didn’t allow a meal break and an hour of pay for each time you were not allowed a proper rest break.
If your rights to breaks have been violated, you do not need to remain silent. These breaks are required by California law, so it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for filing a claim.