Important Information About Meal Periods in California
Essential points about meal period laws in California include the following:
- Employers may not employ workers for more than five hours in a given day without providing an uninterrupted and off-duty meal period of at least 30 minutes.
- If an employee’s total work day is no more than six hours, the above requirement may be waived by mutual written consent of the employee and employer.
- Employers may not employ workers for more than 10 hours per day without providing a second meal period of at least 30 minutes.
- If an employee’s total work day is no more than 12 hours, the above requirement may be waived by mutual written consent of the employee and employer.
- A “work period of more than 5 hours” means that a first meal period must be provided no later than the start of an employee’s 6th hour of work and a second meal period must be provided no later than the start of the 11th hour of work (unless this requirement is
- Employers cannot require employees to work in any capacity during meal periods.
- Employees can choose to work during meal periods, and if they do, their employers have not violated the law.
- In general, if an employer fails to provide an employee a meal period in accordance with an applicable wage order, the employer must pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that the meal period is not provided.
What You Need to Know About Rest and Recovery Periods in California
Critical points about California’s laws for rest and recovery periods at work include:
- Employees must be given 10-minute net rest periods for every 4 hours of work, to be taken in the middle of each 4-hour period insofar as practicable.
- Employers don’t need to provide rest periods to employees whose total daily work is less than 3.5 hours.
- Rest periods must be paid.
- For employees paid by piece-rate or commission, the employer must separately compensate the employees for rest periods, at the higher of: (a) the employee’s average hourly rate; or (b) the applicable minimum wage.
- Rest periods cannot be waived by contract, but every industry is different.
- A recovery period is a paid cool-down period afforded an employee to prevent heat illness. Employees must be allowed and encouraged to take a cool-down period in the shade for no less than 5 minutes at a time when they feel the need to do so to protect themselves from overheating.
- Just like the rest period premium, (a) there is a recovery period premium for failure provide recovery periods, and (b) those employees who are paid by piece-rate or commission must be paid separately for their recovery periods.
Have You Been Denied Proper Breaks Or Pay For Break Periods?
There may be exceptions to these rules, such as for industries that have their own meal and rest break schedules arrived at through collective bargaining agreements. Furthermore, some caregiving occupations require that employees stay on the premises and supervise children or people with disabilities during the workers’ rest breaks. Knowledge may be powerful when you are an employee who has been denied proper breaks or proper pay for breaktimes.
For employees in the Los Angeles area who suspect that they are being denied proper breaks and/or pay for mandated breaks, our employment law firm provides guidance on filing class action and individual lawsuits as needed.