Meal And Rest Breaks In California

When it comes to employee rights and privileges, the state of California has some rigid rules that an employer has to abide by.  This includes some very specified laws that have been prescribed regarding meal time breaks and rest breaks that an employee is entitled to during their working hours.

These laws, however, are a little tricky to understand since the Federal Law and California law have some variations. It is often best for an employer to take the help of a qualified lawyer who can draw up correct paperwork to suit both the employer as well as the employee.

According to California break laws, an employer is not entitled to pay the employee for the meal break that they take. In simple words, the California law states that break time is unpaid for. However, there are many factors that come into play.

Some of them are as follows:

Meal Breaks:

  • If an employee has working hours extending 5 hours, then they are entitled to get 30 minutes off as a meal break. However, these meal breaks have some specific conditions that must be met.
  • These breaks are unpaid
  • The employees must be completely relieved of their official duties
  • They must have the liberty to leave the premises
  • The employer must not pressurize or dissuade an employee from taking the break.
  • If the total working hours of an employee do not exceed 6 hours, the employer may waive off the break time.
  • If the working hours of an employee exceed 10 hours, they are entitled to get yet another 30-minute meal break. However, if the employee chooses, they can waive off the second break –provided they have used the first break. Simply put, the employee cannot waive off both the breaks in one working day.
  • If there is a situation when the employee cannot take a meal break. And if the employee has to grab a bite in-between work, then the employer is expected to pay the employee for that period of time as well.

Rest Time:

Employees can get a 10-minute break for every 4 hours that they work as a rest break. However, they do not have the permission to leave the office premises for that time.

For employees who work less than 3 and half hours, a rest break is not permitted.