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California’s meal and rest break laws: Understanding your rights

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2022 | Wage and hour law

Working in California has some perks. For example, the laws related to employee protections are some of the strongest in the country and world.

One such protection is your right to meal and rest breaks. Any employer who violates the laws regarding these breaks for employees is required to pay the employee penalties.

California’s law for meal and rest breaks

The state has established laws to address meal and rest breaks for employees. The laws are designed to protect employee rights and ensure they maintain a healthy work-life balance while receiving the wages they deserve.

Based on the law, all employees are entitled to a 10-minute rest break for every four hours they work. Failure to provide this rest break results in the employer facing penalties that equate to a full hour of your wage for every break you did not get. Rest breaks are required to be free of all work duties.

Employees are also entitled to a 30-minute meal break (minimum) when working over five hours per day. The meal break must come before the fifth hour of work. A second 30-minute meal break is required for anyone working over 10 hours per day. Employers must pay a full hour of wages for each day you don’t receive the required meal break(s). Like rest breaks, meal breaks should be free of all work duties, and you should have permission to leave the premises.

Your rights to meal and rest breaks in California

For non-exempt employees who miss or are denied meal or rest breaks, you are entitled to receive payment. Sometimes, the issue isn’t with a single worker. Multiple people in a business may be owed meal and rest break penalties from their employer.

Understanding your meal and rest break rights can help you report an employer when they are not providing these. It will also help prevent other employees from not getting the meal and rest breaks they are entitled to.