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California Meal and Rest Break Requirements: Is Your Employer Violating Laws?

For some reason, a huge number of California employers don’t think their employees should be allowed to satisfy their basic needs: to eat.

Luckily for all employees across the state who have been fighting for their rights to have a meal break and adequate rest breaks, your employer can face legal trouble for not complying with California’s meal and rest breaks requirements.

Today, our Los Angeles wage and hour issues attorney at JML Law is going to review whether or not your employer complies with these requirements and how you can sue your employer for failure to provide meal and rest breaks.

Meal break requirements in California

Under California laws, an employer is violating meal break rules if his/her employees work for more than five hours without being provided an unpaid, off-duty meal break.

The meal period should last for at least 30 minutes whether you’re employed in Long Beach, Los Angeles or elsewhere in California.

Our best wage and hour issues attorneys in Los Angeles explain that a California employer is breaking laws if his or her employees are not being provided an opportunity to take a meal and rest break no later than at the end of their fifth hour of work.

Your employer complies with California meal and rest break obligations if he/she:

  1. Ceases control over an employee’s activities for at least 30 minutes
  2. Relives an employee of all duties during the 30-minute break
  3. Doesn’t interrupt the 30-minute meal and rest break in any way
  4. Doesn’t discourage employees from taking a meal or rest break at the end of their fifth hour of work.

If the above-mentioned meal obligations are not satisfied, a meal break should not be considered UNPAID, our wage and hour issues attorney in Los Angeles explains.

Second 30-minute meal and rest break in California

An employee is entitled to have a second meal break of at least 30 minutes if he/she works for more than 10 hours in a workday. Under California meal and rest break requirements, employers must provide their employees with a second meal break no later than at the end of an employee’s 10th hour of work.

An employee can waive the second 30-minute meal break by mutual consent with the employer, but only if:

  1. The total number of hours worked in a workday don’t exceed 12 hours
  2. The first meal break of at least 30 minutes was not waived and went according to all the above-mentioned requirements.

On-duty meal breaks: are they allowed?

Depending on circumstances and nature of your work, an employee in California can be entitled to take on-duty meal and rest breaks, but only if all of the following requirements are satisfied:

  1. The on-duty meal break can be taken only when the nature of work prevents an employee from taking an uninterrupted meal break where he or she would be relieved of all duty
  2. The on-duty break must be negotiated by an employee and employer and agreed in writing
  3. The on-duty meal and rest break must be paid
  4. The break can be revoked by the employee at any time.

If you have noticed violations of California meal and break requirements on the part of your employer, don’t hesitate to contact a Los Angeles wage and hour issues attorney to fight for your rights.

Reach out to our attorneys at JML Law to get a free consultation. Let our skilled lawyers evaluate your case and determine whether or not your employer can be held liable for violating your employee rights.

Call at 818-610-8800 or send an email.


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