In the eyes of the law, the meal break in California is very important. California meal break law requires employers to provide not only meal breaks, but also rest breaks to most of their employees. Unfortunately, a lot of companies violate meal & rest break law, and often pay a steep price as a result.
If you have any reason to believe your employer is in violation of California meal break law, you may be able to seek compensation. Here’s a brief rundown of how a meal break in California must be provided at least once a day, and what you can do if you’re not receiving the breaks you deserve.
A Quick Look at California Meal Break Law
There are two types of employees – at least when it comes to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). One type is known as “exempt.” This is typically a salaried worker who has the authority to make important decisions, such as an administrator, an executive, or a highly skilled employee, such as certain types of computer professionals.
The other type is a “non exempt” employee. This is typically someone who earns an hourly wage and doesn’t have decision-making ability, such as hiring someone or firing a worker.
Employers must provide meal breaks, as well as rest breaks in California, to all non-exempt employees, provided they work a certain number of hours. Here’s a quick look at what employers must do to comply with meal & rest break law in our state.
Meal Breaks in California
- If you’re a non-exempt employee, you must receive one 30-minute meal break for each five hours you work. If you work 10 or more hours, you must receive a second break.
- The break must be at least 10 minutes, and you can’t be required to perform any type of work-related activity. Your employer can’t interrupt your break for any reason.
- You must also be allowed to leave the work site during the break.
Rest Breaks in California
- If you work a shift of at least 3.5 hours, you’re entitled to a paid, 10-minute rest break.
- Like a meal break, you can’t be interrupted for any job-related matters.
- You can leave the jobsite if you want. You don’t have to stay close or have your phone handy for anything related to your work.
How Do Employers Commonly Violate Meal & Rest Break Law?
There are a lot of ways an employer will try to skirt California meal break law. For example, they might not have enough workers to cover a shift, or they don’t allow employees to take breaks at the times mandated by the law.
How Can I Obtain Compensation?
Whatever the reason this happens, a violation is a violation. If you feel one has occurred, you might be able to seek compensation. You might be able to take legal action and obtain as much as an additional hour of pay for each day you were denied meal or rest breaks. If this has been happening for an extended period of time, that could add up to a great deal of money.
In order to obtain any compensation, however, you’ll need to speak with an attorney who not only has a lot of experience in these types of cases, but also a strong track record of success. Take your time and do some research so you can make the best possible choice.
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