Compensation for Meal and Rest Break Violations
Employers often try to pressure employees to skip breaks, work through them, or come back to work early. However, California employee protections are robust, particularly compared to other states. In fact, California boasts some of the most favorable employment laws for employees in the nation. Almost all of California’s employment laws favor the employee, and the laws about meal and rest violations are no exception.
At the Law Offices of David M. Boertje, we understand how difficult it can be to assert even legally protected rights in an environment where you may feel that you lack real power, so we are here to help level the playing field by giving you the representation that you deserve.Meals and Breaks You Are Legally Entitled to
Under California law, employees are entitled to a paid 10-minute break for every four hours worked (or over 2 hours, as that’s considered a “major fraction” of 4 hours). Additionally, once workers reach five hours, they are entitled to an unpaid 30-minute break (unless the shift is 6 hours or less). If an employee works more than 10 hours, they are entitled to two unpaid 30-minute breaks.What is the Compensation for Missed Meal and Rest Breaks
Under California law, you are entitled to one full hour of pay for each missed rest period and each missed meal period. For instance, if you work an 8-hour shift and your employer does not permit you to take any meal or rest breaks, you would be entitled to three full hours of pay, two for the missed 10-minute rest breaks, and one for the missed 30-minute break.What Employers Don’t Want You to Know About Meal and Rest Breaks:
- If you are required to remain on the employer’s premises during your break, you must be paid for your entire 30-minute break.
- If you are required to work for any part of your break, you must be paid for your entire 30-minute break.
- If you are “on duty” for any part of your break, even if business is slow, you must be paid for your entire 30-minute break. California courts have held that requiring an employee to remain on call, or to keep a radio, walkie-talkie, or other communication device with them during their break constitutes being “on duty,” and requires the employer to pay the employee for the entire break period.
- Unless an employee is working a shift of six hours or less, the only situation in which an employer can waive or cancel an employee’s break is with the written consent of the employee. This also applies to “on duty meal” situations. It’s also important to note that the employee is under no obligation to write or provide that consent legally. If an employee does refuse to provide written consent to waive their break and then experiences adverse employment action, such as being demoted or fired, a retaliation suit against the employer may also apply.
- Your employer cannot count toilet breaks as rest breaks.
If you are being denied the meal and rest breaks that you are legally entitled to, let us help you get the payment that you have earned. Contact our offices today, serving San Diego County, and all of greater Southern California. If your California employer has denied you meal and rest breaks, or committed other unlawful, illegal, or unfair practices, we will help you get the accountability and compensation that you deserve. We offer free consultations by phone and online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.