Most California workers should be fully aware of their rights under the law to take a meal break. This is a fundamental part of their workday and employers who either deprive them of at least thirty minutes to have a meal if they work at least five hours and fewer than six could be confronted with employment law violations.
Still, in some cases, employees are not completely up to date on the entire scope of their rights. If they work beyond a specific number of hours, they can take a second meal break. When employers do not adhere to this rule, it too could be the basis of a legal complaint.
When does an employee get a second meal break?
Just as a first meal break must last for at least 30 minutes, the second meal break must also be for 30 minutes. This will be provided if the employee works more than 10 hours in a day. If the total number of hours the worker worked was up to 12 hours, then the parties can mutually agree to waive the second meal break only if the first meal break was not waived.
Workers who have worked more than five hours must get their first meal after the fifth hour – at least when the sixth hour is getting underway. For the second meal, after 10 hours have been reached, they can take the break at the start of the 11th hour.
Often, workers are not clear on their options if their employer is violating this law. An employer’s failure to give a worker the necessary meal break means the employee should receive an hour of pay at their regular rate. This is called “meal period premium pay.”
They will get this for every workday in which they did not get the meal break. There is a three-year statute of limitations to complain about not getting sufficient time to have a meal.
Workers should not let employers deprive them of meal breaks
Many employees are either unsure of their rights or think that if they try to take the second meal break they are entitled to, they will face negative consequences such as termination or disfavor. Employers do not have the right to restrict employees’ meal time if they have worked a certain number of hours and there is no waiver regarding their breaks.
It is imperative to be aware of the legal strategies that can help. It is unfortunate that meal and rest violations happen so frequently, but people who have not gotten their meal breaks should consult with professionals who have experience in these cases and can hold employers accountable.