Every person with a job understands the importance of taking breaks. Without meal and rest breaks, you might become too hungry or fatigued to focus on the task at hand. This would result in putting yourself at risk of making a mistake, or even causing an accident at work. If you feel that your employer has denied you rightful break periods, a Los Angeles employment law attorney can help you enforce your rights. The experienced attorneys at Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos, LLP, have been advocating for decades on behalf of workers whose employment rights have been violated. In cases where violations of the meal and rest break laws have occurred, we may be able to help seek the restitution you deserve.
Under California law, all non-exempt employees must receive a 10-minute paid rest break for each 4-hour interval they work or “a major fraction thereof.” The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) mandates that work shifts of 2 hours or longer count as a “major fraction” of 4 hours, but it does not require rest breaks for work periods totaling fewer than 3.5 hours.
Workers are entitled to a net break period of ten minutes that begins the moment they are relieved from their duties. This break should occur near the middle of the employee’s 4-hour work shift, if possible. Employers who violate an employee’s rest break rights are penalized at least one hour of pay for each day they deny rightful breaks.
California law requires that employers provide a 30-minute unpaid meal break for work shifts of 5 or more hours. Workers may not waive this break period if they work more than 6 hours in a single shift. They are also entitled to take a second 30-minute meal break after working 10 hours, but they can waive the second break so long as they took the first one.
Employees must be relieved of all their duties during the meal break and be allowed to leave the employment premises. In situations where workers are not relieved of all duties during their 30-minute meal break period, they are still considered to be on-duty. This counts as time worked. Two important points to consider with these types of breaks are:
On-duty break periods must be paid at the worker’s regular rate of pay. One California appeals court ruled that written agreements establishing on-duty break periods require language clearly setting out that workers may cancel the on-duty break agreement at any time, provided they do so in writing.
California state law requires that all non-exempt workers receive meal and rest breaks, depending upon the number of hours they work in a shift. Employees typically fall under non-exempt status unless they hold executive, administrative, or professional positions. Determinations on exempt versus non-exempt status are based upon a worker’s actual job duties, not simply job titles or pay. Salaried workers may still qualify as non-exempt workers, depending upon their actual duties.
Navigating the specific California meal and rest break laws may seem confusing for the average worker. The Los Angeles meal and rest break lawyers at Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos, LLP have been practicing employment law and advising clients for decades. We may be able to help you receive compensation from your employer in the event they have violated state or federal laws. If you believe your meal and rest break rights have been violated, contact us online or call (310) 844-9696 to schedule a free consultation.