State and federal employment laws provide important rights and protect employees from a wide range of employer misconduct. Whenever there is a conflict between state and federal laws, the more protective laws are applied. When it comes to rest and meal breaks, this is a very good thing for California employees.
Federally, there is no legal mandate that employers provide rest and meal breaks for employees during the workday. This is in contrast to the laws of California, which is one of the states that requires that employers receive meal and/or rest breaks if they work a certain number of hours in a workday.
What Are Your Meal Break Rights?
Employers in California are legally required to provide unpaid (job-protected) meal breaks to employees. Employees who work at least 5 hours in a workday must receive one half-hour meal break; however, these employees have the option of waiving this break. Employees who work ten hours in a workday are entitled to two half-hour meal breaks. Both meal breaks can be waived if the employee works between ten to twelve hours during the workday. However, employees who work over twelve hours in a workday are mandated to take at least one half-hour meal break during their workday.
Since a meal break is unpaid, it is your time. This means that your employer cannot prohibit you from leaving the office and cannot make you work during this time; however, employees can freely choose whether they want to work. Notably, there are situations in which meal breaks are paid. For example certain industries allow for employees to explicitly agree to paid, on-duty lunches.
What Are Your Rest Break Rights?
Employees are entitled to a paid ten minute break for each four hour interval of time worked during a workday. Significantly, time is rounded up when determining whether an employee is entitled to a work break. So working at least three and a half hours is enough for an employee to get a ten minute break. Further, working six hours will entitle an employee to two paid, ten minute breaks. If an employee works ten hours, then he or she must receive three ten minute breaks during the workday. Like meal breaks, employees can choose on their own to waive their breaks, but an employee cannot encourage or compel an employee to skip a break.
You Need an Attorney
You a legal right in California to meal and rest breaks. If you have read the information above and believe that your employer is improperly withholding breaks, or is forcing you to skip your breaks, contact Moss Bollinger. Numerous employers are notorious for refusing to give breaks or to pay hard working employees what they are owed. Obtaining an attorney will make them take you seriously. We work on a contingency basis. Contact Moss Bollinger today at (866) 535-2994 to schedule a free consultation or reach us online.