Helping you navigate meal and break violations in California

Like most employees in California, you likely work 8 or more hours of the day. During that time frame, it is likely that you will have one or two meals. Additionally, you will often find yourself needing a break from your work tasks, whether it is to get some fresh air or simply take a short walk. With that in mind, employees classified as nonexempt are specifically provided meal and rest breaks in accordance with California law.

Understanding meal and rest breaks

At JCL Law Firm, APC, we understand that employees are not always fully aware of all of their rights. Moreover, they are not always aware when their rights are being violated. Our law firm recognizes the importance of this knowledge, as it can help employees take timely and appropriate action.

With regard to meal and rest breaks, employers in California are required to provide nonexempt employees with a 30-minute break. This break must be an uninterrupted meal period, and it should occur for every five hours of work. This means that the meal break is provided as long as five hours are worked and the break does not need to be taken after five hours of work has been completed. However, it means that it does need to occur by the fifth hour of work.

When it comes to rest breaks, an employee should be provided with a 10-minute break for every three-and-a-half hours of work. The timing of rest breaks are typically in the middle of the fourth hour of the work period.

What if a meal or rest break is not given?

If these breaks are not provided or are interrupted, an employer is required to pay an employee additional compensation. Based on California law, if an employer does not provide a meal break, they owe an employee one more hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate. Additionally, if an employer fails to provide regular rest periods or interrupts them, an employer is required to pay the employee for an extra hour at their regular rate of pay.

Navigating employment law issues, such as meal and break violations, can be difficult, as an employee may fear that their job is on the line if they take action. Our law firm is available to help employees better understand their rights, helping them determine what steps to take.