Understanding Meal Break Violations
Do you have an understanding of meal break violations? As a California employee, you are usually allowed to take three breaks during your work day – and it is illegal for your employer to restrict you from taking them.. Have you been taking your uninterrupted breaks?
There are strict state rules employers must follow that entitle their employees to certain rest and meal breaks throughout their work day. Lawyers for Justice PC’s wage and hour attorneys fight for California workers so that their rights are protected. Our firm is not afraid to go after big corporations when it comes to ensuring the rights of workers – especially when it comes to meal breaks.
When speaking with one of our wage and hour lawyers, you’ll find that most California workers are entitled to at least one 30-minute meal break and two 10-minute rest breaks per 8-hour shift. During those breaks, it is improper for an employer to ask an employee to work through their breaks, or for them to prohibit an employee from taking them. If an employer does restrict an employee’s meal or rest breaks for any reason, they are breaking the law.
Think back to your latest work day: were you asked to work through your meal break? Was your meal break cut short because you had to return to work? Were you forced to stay on-premises for your break? If so, you may be entitled to compensation. All of these instances are illegal. Lawyers for Justice, PC empowers 30 wage lawyers who can take your case, fight for your rights, and win you the compensation you deserve.
Our strong team of wage and hour attorneys will make sure you get justice in the workplace. Call us today at 818-647-9323 for a FREE consultation and see our other practice areas here.
California Meal Break Laws
Under California labor laws, employees are entitled to meal breaks during their work shifts. The meal break laws in California are as follows:
- Duration of Meal Breaks: Employees who work for more than five hours in a day must be provided with a meal break of at least 30 minutes. This break must be uninterrupted and the employee must be completely relieved of their job duties.
- Timing of Meal Breaks: The meal break must be provided no later than the end of the employee’s fifth hour of work. If the total work period is no more than six hours, the meal break can be waived by mutual agreement between the employer and employee. However, it is generally recommended to provide the meal break even if the work period is shorter.
- Second Meal Break: If an employee works for more than ten hours in a day, they are entitled to a second meal break of at least 30 minutes. This second meal break must be provided no later than the end of the employee’s tenth hour of work. The second meal break can be waived by mutual agreement if the total work period is no more than 12 hours, but it is advisable to provide the second meal break whenever possible.
- On-Duty Meal Breaks: In certain circumstances, an employer may permit an employee to take an on-duty meal break. However, this requires a written agreement between the employer and employee, and the employee must have the option to revoke the agreement at any time.
- Penalty for Meal Break Violations: If an employer fails to provide a required meal break or provides an inadequate meal break, they may be subject to paying a premium to the employee. The premium is equal to one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each day that a meal break violation occurred.
It’s important for employers to comply with these meal break laws to ensure that their employees receive the required breaks. Employees who believe their meal break rights have been violated can file a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office or pursue legal action against their employer.
What is A Meal Break Penalty?
In California, a meal break penalty is a financial compensation provided to an employee when their employer fails to provide a required meal break or provides an inadequate meal break. The penalty is intended to compensate the employee for the violation of their meal break rights.
According to California labor laws, if an employer fails to provide a meal break or provides a meal break that does not meet the legal requirements, they are required to pay the employee a premium as a penalty. The penalty is equal to one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each day that a meal break violation occurred.
For example, if an employee worked for six hours without receiving a meal break, the employer would owe the employee one hour of additional pay as a meal break penalty. If the violation occurred for multiple days, the penalty would be calculated accordingly for each day.
It’s worth noting that the penalty applies to each day that a meal break violation occurs. So if an employer consistently fails to provide meal breaks or provides inadequate meal breaks over a period of time, the penalties can add up.
The purpose of the meal break penalty is to incentivize employers to comply with the meal break laws and ensure that employees receive their required breaks. If an employee believes their meal break rights have been violated, they can file a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office or pursue legal action to seek the meal break penalties they are entitled to.
What Are Meal and Rest Break Policies for California Workers – FAQ
can you combine rest and meal breaks in California? No, under California labor laws, rest periods and meal periods are distinct and separate, and they cannot be combined. It is important for employers to ensure that both rest periods and meal periods are provided separately and at the appropriate times. Combining these breaks or providing insufficient break time can potentially violate California labor laws.
are meal breaks required by law? Under California law (IWC Orders and Labor Code Section 512), employees must be provided with no less than a thirty-minute meal period when the work period is more than five hours (more than six hours for employees in the motion picture industry covered by IWC Order 12-2001).
are exempt employees entitled to meal breaks in California? Exempt employees are entitled to meal periods, but not rest breaks. Generally, there are three requirements for an employee to be classified as exempt: Salary must be at least twice the state minimum wage for full-time employment; Primary duties must be administrative, executive, or professional tasks
are meal and rest breaks required by federal law? Federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks. However, when employers do offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5 to 20 minutes), federal law considers the breaks as compensable work hours that would be included in the sum of hours worked during the workweek and considered in determining if overtime was worked. Read more here.
are meal breaks paid in California? California employees are entitled to an uninterrupted 30-minute unpaid meal period when working more than five hours in a day. A second meal period of 30 minutes, also unpaid, is allowed when an employee works more than 12 hours in a day.
can i waive my meal break in California? If you don’t work more than six hours, you can opt to skip your meal period for any reason. You may legally waive your meal period if you work more than six hours. But the employee and employer must agree to it beforehand, preferably in writing.
what are meal and rest break policies for California workers? Most California workers must receive the following meal and rest times: An uninterrupted 30-minute unpaid meal period when working more than five hours in a day. An additional 30-minute unpaid meal period when working more than 12 hours in a day. A paid 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked.