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Meal And Rest Breaks In California

All non-exempt California employees are entitled to regular meal and rest breaks during work periods. Unfortunately, many employers deny their workers these breaks and are in violation of federal and state law. If you believe that your right to meal and rest breaks has been violated by your current or former employer, contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Arias, Ozzello & Gignac. We will determine whether or not your employer is in compliance with the law and help you seek redress for any wrongs that have been committed against you. If your co-workers have also been denied these breaks, a employment law suit may be appropriate. Call the Law Offices of Arias, Ozzello & Gignac for a free initial consultation.

Who Does The Law Apply To?

Under state law, all non-exempt employees are entitled to meal and rest breaks. Federal law also establishes mandatory break periods for employees. However, California law is more favorable to employees than federal law and the employer must comply with the law that provides the most protection to workers. An employee is usually considered non-exempt unless he or she hold a management, administrative, or professional position. A determination of exempt or non-exempt status is based on the employee's job duties, not an employee's job title or how he or she is paid. Even salaried employees can be non-exempt.

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California Break Periods

State law provides the following break periods for all non-exempt employees:

  • A 10 minute paid break period for every 4 hours of work. If feasible, each break period should be scheduled in the middle of the work period. The employee is not required to take the break period.
  • A rest period is not required if the employee's total daily work time is less than 3 1/2 hours.
  • If a break period is not provided for the employee, the employer is penalized one hour of pay for every day a break is denied.
  • Mothers with infants are entitled to a reasonable amount of break time to express breast milk. Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with a room or other location (other than a toilet stall) to express milk in private. A private location does not have to be provided if doing so would seriously disrupt the employer's operations.

California Meal Periods

State law provides the following meal periods for all non-exempt employees:

  • Not less than 30 minutes must be provided to every employee who works more than 5 hours. During this time, the employee is to be relieved of all duties and is free to leave the employer's premises.
  • If the employee is not relieved of all duty during a 30 minute period, the employee is considered "on-duty" and is counted as time worked. On-duty breaks are only allowed when the nature of the work prevents the employee from being relieved of all job duties (for example an armored car guard). Both parties must agree to such breaks. Over time pay is required if the employee ends up working over 40 hours per week because of the added break time.
  • A second break period of not less than 30 minutes must be provided if the employee works more than 10 hours.
  • The right to a meal period can not be waived. However, if an employee works 6 hours or less, the required break period may be waived if the employee and employer agree. If an employee works 12 hours or less and takes the first period, the second period may be waived by mutual consent.

Employment Law Attorneys California

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Every employer has a legal duty to provide meal and rest breaks to non-exempt employees. If you believe that your rights to meal and rest breaks have been violated by your current or former employer, contact the Law Offices of Arias, Ozzello & Gignac today. Our experienced employment law attorneys will protect your rights and help you recover the compensation that you deserve.

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