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What Break Periods Am I Entitled To? (2018)

california meal breaks, california rest breaks, break lawsUnder California law (which is much more generous to employees than federal law), if you are a non-exempt worker, you are entitled to meal and rest breaks: a 30-minute meal break if you work more than 5 hours in a workday, and 10 minutes breaks for every 4 hours you work (or “major fraction” thereof). There are other requirements though. If your boss doesn’t comply with break requirements, they are required to pay you one extra hour of regular pay for each day on which a meal break violation occurred, and another extra hour of regular pay for each day on which a rest break violation occurred.

For the nitty gritties, see below:

Rest Breaks

  1. Your boss must give you a rest break of at least 10 consecutive minutes that are uninterrupted.
  2. Rest breaks must be paid.
  3. If you work at least 3.5 hours in a day, you are entitled to one rest break. If you work over 6 hours, you are entitled to a second rest break. If you work over 10 hours, you are entitled to a third rest break.
  4. Rest breaks must to the extent possible be in the middle of each work period. If you work 8 hours or so, you should have a separate rest break both before and after your meal break.
  5. Your boss may not require you to remain on work premises during your rest break.
  6. You cannot be required to work during any required rest break. [Cal. Lab. C. 226.7]. BUT, you are free to skip your rest break provided your boss isn’t encouraging or forcing you to.

Meal Breaks

  1. If you work over 5 hours in a day, you are entitled to a meal break of at least 30 minutes that must start before the end of the fifth hour of your shift. BUT, you can agree with your boss to waive this meal period provided you do not work more than 6 hours in the workday. You can also agree with your boss to an on-duty meal break which counts as time worked and is paid.
  2. If you work over 10 hours in a day, you are entitled to a second meal break of at least 30 minutes that must start before the end of the tenth hour of your shift. You can agree with your boss to waive the second meal break if you do not work more than 12 hours and you did not waive your first meal break.
  3. You must be allowed to take your meal break off work premises and spend your break how you wish, since it is off the clock.
  4. You cannot be required to work during any required meal break. [Cal. Lab. C. 226.7].
  5. As of 2012, your boss has an affirmative obligation to ensure that breaks are made available to you but the actual taking of meal breaks is left to the employee. In other words, you are responsible for “breaking” yourself.

Note, rest and meal breaks are supposed to be separate, they should not be combined. Your boss cannot give you a single 1-hour break and say that that counts as all of your meal and rest breaks.

Keep in mind, there are many exceptions to the above for certain industries, such as the construction, healthcare, group home, motion picture, manufacturing, and baking industries.

If your employer is violating your rights to meal and rest breaks, you should contact a lawyer right away as you may be entitled to receive a penalty of 1 hour wages per day you were denied any rest breaks, and an additional penalty of 1 hour wages per day you were denied any meal breaks (for a maximum penalty of up to 2 hours wages per day). Your claims are subject to strict filing deadlines. For meal and rest break violations, the filing deadline is usually considered to be 3 years thanks to a recent California Supreme Court decision. [Murphy v Kenneth Cole Productions, 40 Cal.4th 1094 (2007)], but in certain cases, a 1 year filing deadline could apply.

Keep on taking those breaks!

Photo courtesy of cjmellows

2,043 Comments

  1. Zack on January 12, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    My company is switching us from salary to hourly and we are required to be to work 1/2 hour early at 9:30 than our scheduled clock in time of 10am-6pm how does this work my boss says it starts at 10:30 the first hour and the last hour is 5:30 so we don’t get paid for the last half hour or that counted in as our 30 minute lunch which clocks us in at 8.5 hours

  2. Christine on January 12, 2018 at 8:49 am

    I work about 10 minutes from town. We get a 30 minute lunch break. There are a few times in the year when I have needed to go to town to get lunch and have made it back in the allotted 30 minute lunch break. My boss has said if we leave the premises for lunch and go to town we are required to take an hour lunch. He has threatened me if I continue to go to town and only take 30 minutes. He keeps saying it is a safety issue and other people notice I have left. What legal rights do I have regarding this?

  3. Steve on January 12, 2018 at 7:25 am

    Hi if I work in California 1:30pm-10:00pm then have to be back the fallowing morning at 4:00am in the state of California their was no 8 hour rest period. Am I suppose to be paid over time for my next entire shift I started at 4:00am? Or could Their be something mentioned in the employee hand book that makes that legal?

  4. M Trujillo on January 11, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    An employee works from 1pm to 5pm M-Th, 1 pm – 4:30 pm Fri. Are they entitled to a 10-15 minute break? Thank you.

  5. Christian Escalera on January 11, 2018 at 12:45 am

    hello I work 5.5 to 6 hours a day I try taking a lunch but they tell me I can’t because I am not working enough. Even tho my schedule has a meal break in it but when it comes down to it they tell me I am required to work more time to get a meal break. Can you please help me with that

  6. Mindy Martinez on January 10, 2018 at 2:21 am

    I work at a gas station 6 1/2 to 8 1/2 shifts. 3/4 of the time i am alone and 98% of the time i don’t get a 10 minute break without having to resume working because of a customer. We also have to take our lunches 2 hours into our shift. I was informed because of our work we were getting legal breaks. Is it legal not legal?

  7. Veronica on January 9, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    How about being forced to take a meal break 20 minutes in to your 8 hour shift and coming back to work the remaining 7+ hours with no more breaks? Can they legally force you to take a 30 minute lunch break right as you start your shift?

  8. Cathy Clothier on January 9, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Hello,
    I work for a theater and they had a CPR class that we could sign up for it was an 8 hour class that they tried to do in only 6 hours. We started at 10:00 and the went to 3:50. We were given 1-10 min break and 1-5 min break with no lunch. Our employer told the instructor which in turned told us they she was told not to give us lunch, but no one in the class knew this until I asked her around 2:00 if we where getting a break.
    I then wrote this to my employer and this is what I received back.
    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Below is what The State of California provides regarding breaks.
    The CPR instructors are contracted to instruct our officers on CPR, and may not be aware of/or familiar with rest break regulatory issues.
    We will reach out to them and ask if the can make sure they give our staff at least a ten-minute break/rest every 3 1/2 hours. Or as needed individually.

    Please contact me if you have any additional questions regarding this issue Cathy.

    Rest Breaks
    1. Your boss must give you a rest break of at least 10 consecutive minutes that are uninterrupted.
    2. Rest breaks must be paid.
    3. If you work at least 3.5 hours in a day, you are entitled to one rest break. If you work over 6 hours, you are entitled to a second rest break. If you work over 10 hours, you are entitled to a third rest break.
    4. Rest breaks must to the extent possible be in the middle of each work period. If you work 8 hours or so, you should have a separate rest break both before and after your meal break.
    5. Your boss may require you to remain on work premises during your rest break.
    6. You cannot be required to work during any required rest break. BUT, you are free to skip your rest break provided your boss isn’t encouraging or forcing you to

    This is the main manager and when you bring this kinda of stuff up, you either get taken off the schedule and they don’t work you. (You do get punished when you bring up what they are doing is wrong).

    Can you tell me if he is correct with his response.
    Thank you

  9. Danielle on January 7, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    I work a 4/10 shift compressed work week (4 ten hour shifts), how many breaks would i be getting in one day? Is it 30min lunch, three 10 min breaks? Thanks!

  10. Alexa on January 4, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    A manager told me that I can no longer take all my lunch breaks at 12pm because there is a law requiring him to shift lunch breaks around employees. I work at a bank and I am the most senior teller their and the rest of my colleagues come 30 minutes after I do, and I want to take my lunch at 12, not 1130. Also the law is in place to keep certain employees from being treated specially.

    I think the manager is lying to me instead of doing his job taking the heat for their management decisions.

  11. Angie Kim on January 4, 2018 at 11:54 am

    Hi Eugene,

    If the employees chooses take less than 30 min lunch (for example, employees clock back in after 28 mins out of their 30 min of lunch break), is it true that the company owe them 1 hour of wage in CA? Thank you!

    • Julie on January 5, 2018 at 1:53 pm

      Sorry Angie, nope!
      You are choosing to violate the law by taking a shorter lunch break, and I expect your supervisor will talk to you about it. I had talk to an employee many times and then (eventually) write him up because they never took his full lunch breaks, even after counseling him. I had to write him up for disobedience to have back up that we did speak and that I was trying to make sure he received his fully earned lunch time.
      However, IF you are called back early by your employer, then YES you are entitled.

    • Eugene Lee on January 5, 2018 at 9:47 pm

      I think Julie touched on it, but yes, if the employer caused you to cut your break short, then the violation is on them and you are entitled to a meal break premium. If you are overloaded with work and that’s why you can’t take your full break, you need to bring it up with management. If they don’t fix the problem and your breaks still keep getting cut short, then that too is on the employer and you would be entitled to a meal break premium.

  12. Jennifer on January 3, 2018 at 11:16 am

    We work 10 hour shifts per day for five days per week. We have had an ongoing situation regarding the rest breaks. Some employees are stating that they are required three rest periods and from what I’ve read in the law it’s only two. Our shift is from 6:00 am -4:30 p.m. If it is only two rest breaks and a meal break when are these periods in the day taken?? Currently we are taking a break at 8:00 am and then lunch at 10:00 and then another break at 12:30 and the third at 2:30. What is the correct times they should be taking their rest and lunch breaks?

    • Eugene Lee on January 5, 2018 at 9:54 pm

      I think the breaks and schedule you describe are fine and comply with California labor laws. Technically, because you are on the clock for 10 hours, you would be entitled to only two 10-minute rest breaks, not three. If you are on the clock for over 10 hours, then you would be entitled to three rest breaks. But it is probably prudent for the employer to give three rest breaks so as to allow for the possibility of employees going over 10 hours on the clock.

  13. John on December 29, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    If an employee starts at 0630 am the employee can still take his meal break up to 1229, which is calculated at 5 hours and 59 mins and that is considered at the end of the 5th hour. we just want to make sure we are compliant with labor laws. Pls. help us understand if what we are doing is correct.

    • Erik on December 31, 2017 at 2:18 am

      That would be the end of the employees 6th hour of work therefore what you’re doing is a violation

      • Jan on January 3, 2018 at 4:20 pm

        Not necessarily a violation. as long as the person clocks out before the 6 hour period they are not in violation if they waive their right. Read the law below:

        “If you work over 5 hours in a day, you are entitled to a meal break of at least 30 minutes that must start before the end of the fifth hour of your shift. BUT, you can agree with your boss to waive this meal period provided you do not work more than 6 hours in the workday”

        • Julie on January 5, 2018 at 11:05 am

          0630 to 0730 is the first hour;
          0730 to 0830 is the second hour;
          0830 to 0930 is the third hour;
          0930 to 1030 is the fourth hour;
          and so the end of the fifth hour at work is 1130…
          1130 to 1200 is lunch…
          1200 to 1300 is the sixth hour;
          1300 to 1400 is the seventh hour;
          and lastly 1400 to 1500 is the eighth and final hour.

          Also, yes you certainly can clock out and go home by the end of the 6th hour (in this case 1230), but only if that was your scheduled shift, or approved by your manager to allow you to leave early for the day. If you take your lunch before 930 or past 1130 you are NOT in compliance.
          If it is a reoccurring problem for you to take lunch late because of the industry you work in, I would recommend you speak to your supervisor immediately to find a solution and rectify the problem. In some instances I have seen where a plan is agreed upon and a waiver is signed, stating that the lunch break it to be taken when it is slow enough without any penalty on the employer. The service industry can be very difficult to take a scheduled break as it is ever changing with the flow of business. IE: hotel front desk job I had and then also managed.

    • Jan on January 3, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      You are compliant with the law as long as they waive their right, and do not work 6 hours or more. So 5 hours and 59 minutes meets that requirement, and you are compliant.

  14. JD on December 28, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    I work in an office 40 hours a week and I’m paid hourly. We were informed that one day next month all employees will be required to attend a function off the premises for approx. 2 1/2 – 3 hours where a luncheon will be provided. Are we still entitled to our regular unpaid 1 hour lunch break after the company function?

    • Eugene Lee on January 5, 2018 at 10:03 pm

      That depends on whether you are required to attend the luncheon or whether you are allowed to leave for 30 minutes to take a meal break. If the former, then you weren’t provided a lunch break and must still get one.

  15. Denise on December 28, 2017 at 7:24 am

    I work for a hotel and work a 7 hour shift or 11 hour shift. I usually take my break when ever it slows down during my shift as agreed with my employer and meal breaks the same way, but nothing in writing. I get paid for the full 7 hour shift. My employer usually was available for breaks. Was is it up to me to request a specific time for meals and break? Do I have a claim against my employer for not taking a formal meal break or rest breaks?

    • Eugene Lee on January 5, 2018 at 10:06 pm

      After the Supreme Court issued the decision Brinker v Sup. Ct. in 2012, it became the employee’s responsibility to break themselves. The employer is no longer responsible for breaking employees. Employers must simply ensure that breaks are made available to employees to take. That means employees must be free of work duties, allowed to leave the premises, and spend their meal break however they wish. So no, your employer is not required to formally schedule your breaks for you. If, however, you try to take your breaks and your employer prevents you, or you are prevented by work and your employer fails to fix the situation after you bring the problem up to them, then the employer would be on the hook for meal break violations.

  16. Sonia on December 27, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    I work at a fulfillment center in California. I’m on a receiving line, we a required to receive 118 items per hour this is referred to as “Our Rate”. Our rate begins the minute we clock in. Upon arrival we have a 10 min. “Stand Up” where we do stretches and review safety tips and daily objective and this is repeated after our lunch breaks. We are also on rate during our two paid 15 min. breaks. I’ve discussed this practice with my supervisor who said that since we are paid by our employer it was okay to do this. If we don’t meet rate we are terminated. Is what their doing legal?

    • Eugene Lee on January 5, 2018 at 10:13 pm

      You should not be on Rate during your rest breaks. That is the employer discouraging rest breaks. During rest breaks, you must be relieved of all work duties, including being on Rate. You should consider filing a labor board claim or speaking with a labor lawyer.

  17. Carlos on December 27, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Work for Cargill it has happened more than once we’ve arrived for work clocked in at 5am and at 5:02am they send us to break due to problems on the lines. Then come back and work until it’s lunch break around 9am Supervisor say don’t worry we’ll fix it on the time sheets.

  18. John on December 26, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Can you Pls. enlighten me regarding the statement that says meal breaks must start before the end of the 5th hour of your shift meaning the employee can take his meal break at the 5 hour and 59 mins which is still before the end of the 5th hour?

    • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 9:55 am

      Yes that is correct

    • John on December 27, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      If an employee starts at 0630 am the employee can still take his meal break up to 1229, which is calculated at 5 hours and 59 mins and that is considered at the end of the 5th hour. we just want to make sure we are compliant with labor laws. Pls. help us understand if what we are doing is correct.

      • Eugene Lee on December 31, 2017 at 7:29 am

        As Erik commented below, the fifth hour ends at 11:29 am, not 12:29 pm.

    • Erik on December 31, 2017 at 2:25 am

      Eugene is wrong. The 5th hour of work starts once the employee has worked 4 hours. When the shift starts, it’s their 1st hour. Once they’ve worked for an hour, it’s now the start of their 2nd hour. So if an employee starts at 6:30am they must take a lunch by 11:29am (4hrs 59mins) because 10:30am-11:30am is their 5th hour

      1st hour: 6:30am-7:29am
      2nd hour: 7:30am-8:29am
      3rd hour: 8:30am-9:29am
      4th hour: 9:30am-10:29am
      5th hour: 10:30am-11:29am

      • Eugene Lee on December 31, 2017 at 7:28 am

        Hi Erik, I’m definitely not perfect but this is one time I wasn’t actually wrong, as I never told John that the end of the fifth hour was 12:30 pm. John was the one who brought up 12:30 pm. Getting back to your comment, yes, I completely agree with the rest of what you wrote. The meal break must be permitted to start before the end of the fifth hour, i.e., 11:29 am.

  19. Nickey on December 22, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    Hi, can you tell me the labor code for the rest breaks please? I work in surgery and we work 12 hour shifts. We are all but forced to sign a meal waiver for our second meal period, but we rarely get a second rest break, let alone a third. I am a new mom and need that 3rd rest period to pump breast milk for my baby. But, I know that unless I come to my bosses with the labor codes printed and highlighted, I will only be causing myself hardship for upsetting the flow.

    • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 9:59 am

      Well rest breaks can not be waived. In addition you are entitled by law to lactation breaks and a suitably private place to pump. If you bring up your legal rights and get punished for interrupting the flow of work, you would have the right to file a retaliation lawsuit.

  20. Carla Twrzigni on December 22, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I worked for a company for seven years and rarely ever took a lunch break. Do they have to have a legal written agreement with me if I do not take a lunch break ? At times it was my choice to skip lunch and leave early but many times it was because I was too busy to take a lunch break and unable to complete my work if I took a lunch break.

    • Carla Twrzigni on December 22, 2017 at 9:08 am

      I always worked at least eight hours straight and sometimes over eight hours.

      • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 7:42 pm

        If you work over 8 hours and are a non-exempt employee, then you must be paid daily overtime at 1.5 times your regular wage for any hours worked over 8 hours in a day. There are exceptions of course (e..g, in home residential caregivers).

    • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 10:10 am

      It doesnt have to be in writing. Also the law now requires employees to break themselves. If work is preventing you from doing that, you are responsible for bringing that up to your supervisors (I advise doing that in writing) and they must fix it. If the employer is the one stopping or interrupting, then you already have a claim for denied breaks.

  21. Pammy on December 20, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    I work for a preschool and at times teachers or myself are being asked to take a lunch an hour and half to two hours after we clock in, and sometimes to combine breaks with lunch. My main question is, can the employer send us to lunch so early after clocking in?

    • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 7:43 pm

      The California Supreme Court stated in a case called Brinker v Sup Ct that, in an 8 hour shift, there must be two separate rest breaks on EITHER side of a meal break. The breaks can’t be combined, either. So if you aren’t getting a rest break before your meal break, that may be a violation.

  22. Lindsey on December 20, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    I work in retail. I have normally been scheduled for a shift that is 8 hrs 30 min, with an unpaid 30 min lunch and two scheduled breaks. Recently management cut our shifts down to 8 hrs and 15 min, with one break at the two hour mark and a 30 min unpaid lunch at the 4 hour mark with no second break. When questioned, management stated that since we clock out for lunch, our actual shift is 7 hrs 45 min, and so we are not entitled to a second break since breaks are based on cumulative time worked rather than scheduled time worked and we are not working the full 8 hrs. Should we be getting the second break?Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this situation!

    • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      Yes, you should still be getting a second rest break. If you work over 3.5 hours, you are entitled to a 10-minute paid rest break. If you work over 6 hours, you are entitled to a SECOND 10-minute paid rest break. Since you are on the clock for 7 hrs 45 mins, that entitles you to TWO 10-minute paid rest breaks. Your employer is wrong.

  23. John on December 19, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Are there any differences in law for local truck drivers who do the same routes daily or weekly. And does the class of license or the size/type of truck matter?

    • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      In California, truck drivers may be exempt from overtime premium pay depending on the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of your truck, especially if it exceeds 26,000 lbs. Most of the trucks you see on the highway have an 80,000 lb GVWR. However, even overtime-exempt truck drivers are STILL entitled to meal and rest breaks under California law. If you aren’t being permitted to take those breaks, you should consider filing a labor board claim.

  24. Luiz on December 18, 2017 at 9:40 am

    If we work a 10.5 hour shift were only getting 1 10min break a 30min lunch and a 15 min break is that correct

    • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Yes, that is correct. Since you are not on the clock for more than 10 hours (the 30-minute lunch is off the clock), you are entitled to only one 30-minute unpaid meal break and two 10-minute paid rest breaks. If you were on the clock for MORE than 10 hours, then you would be entitled to a second 30-minute lunch break and a third 10-minute rest break.

  25. Dustin Stredwick on December 16, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    How long must an employee work before taking his or her break? For example, could an employee starting at 3pm and working until 11pm go on break by 3:30pm? Is there a minimum number of hours that must be worked for a rest period to be considered valid, assuming an 8-hour work day?

    • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      The California Supreme Court stated in a case called Brinker v Sup Ct that, in an 8 hour shift, there must be two separate rest breaks on EITHER side of a meal break. The breaks can’t be combined, either. So if you aren’t getting a rest break both before AND after your meal break, that may be a violation.

      • Dustin Stredwick on December 27, 2017 at 7:51 pm

        Great to know. That said, is there any stipulation as to when any of the breaks must be taken?

  26. sophia on December 15, 2017 at 10:54 am

    hi. so i work at a cafe as a baker & when i first started(1 year & 7 months ago) i was asked if i wanted breaks or not & that i would get paid if i didnt. i agreed & was supposed to sign a contract saying so. but we have both forgotten about it until now. i havent been paid for any breaks since i started. would i still be able to get those payments since i didnt sign it?

    • John on December 19, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      Sophia, if I were you I would contact a labor law attorney to file a lawsuit. They are not following the law and are not paying you what you are due. You may also get punitive damages.

    • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 10:17 am

      Yes you can make a claim. Proving it may be hard since nothing is in writing. But you should go ahead and file a labor board claim anyway.

  27. Cecile Hinshaw on December 14, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    I’m confused….the first paragraph says a 10 minute break for every 4 hours worked. But in the “nitty gritty” it says at 3.5 hours you’re entitled to a 20 minute break. What’s the difference ?

    • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2017 at 10:57 pm

      Cecile, great point. So it’s a 10 minute break for every 4 hours works “or major fraction thereof”. So as a rule of thumb, it’s every 4 hours. But if you want to get very precise, it’s as follows:

      At 3.5 hours, you get a 10-minute rest break
      After 6 hours, you get a second 10-minute rest break
      After 10 hours, you get a third 10-minute rest break
      After 14 hours, you get a fourth 10-minute rest break
      After 18 hours, you get a fifth 10-minute rest break
      After 22 hours, you get a sixth 10-minute rest break

      • Yovani on December 15, 2017 at 8:16 am

        Hi if I schedule to work 8 hours. 5:00 am to 1:30 pm but my boss send me a break at 7:30 is legal. We don’t take 10 minutes we are busy. Is legal he send me earlier to take my break

  28. Renee on December 14, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Hi, if im scheduled to work from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm do i have to take a 30 minute break if i dont want to ? Wouldn’t just a 10 minute break be required ?

    • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2017 at 10:59 pm

      Well, if you work 5 hours or less, you aren’t entitled to a 30-minute meal break anyway. You have to work OVER 5 hours to be entitled to a meal break. And it’s up to you to break yourself. But the employer has the right to discipline you if they want you to take your breaks and you decide to skip.

  29. Esmeralda on December 13, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    I work for healthcare company where i called in stating i would be late as i had family emergency. Normally i start at 8 but ended up at work after 10:30 close to 11 since i had no breakfast I asked my supervisor for a 30 minute lunch which she agreed but turned out i clocked back in at 26 minutes i clocked out at 12:08 and clocked back at 12:34 then i work till 5 my normal time but the provider i worked for still had a patient so clocked out at 5:30 now i am being written up for taking only 26 minutes of lunch and stating i worked over 5 hours so needed the full 30 minutes. Are they correct?

    • Eugene Lee on December 13, 2017 at 11:05 pm

      Well, I think the employer has a point. You are entitled to lunch breaks of at least 30 minutes in duration. You can “waive” that requirement if you want, but it has to be with the agreement of the employer. Here, your employer isn’t agreeing, hence the writeup. I think your employer is acting well within the law here.

  30. Bob on December 13, 2017 at 11:57 am

    What about working 1 hour then taking an hour lunch break and then working 5.5 hours. Is a second lunch break required?

    • Eugene Lee on December 13, 2017 at 10:59 pm

      No – because you didn’t work over 10 hours on the clock. However, since you worked more than 6 hours on the clock, you should’ve received two 10-minute paid rest breaks.

  31. Laura on December 12, 2017 at 11:03 am

    I have a question. The company I work for doesn’t have us punch in and out for lunch, but takes the 30 minutes from our pay either way (even if we don’t get a lunch). In this situation is it legal for them to not require us to punch in and out and automatically take the 30 minutes out? I honestly don’t mind since I work for a school and I take my lunch when the students leave but this is after the 5 hour mark.

    • Eugene Lee on December 13, 2017 at 11:02 pm

      Not even close to legal. Not only are you being denied a meal break premium, you also are owed pay for the 30 minutes you worked off the clock. If this puts you over 8 hours worked in a day, then you are also owed overtime premium at time and a half.

      If you later take your lunch but it is after the end of the fifth hour, that is a late lunch and you are still owed a late lunching premium.

      If you are ok with all of that, then you are effectively waiving the meal break violation, which is of course your choice.

  32. Jessica on December 12, 2017 at 10:30 am

    My employer has never denied me a 10 min break when I have asked. But is it up to me to ask for the break? or should my employer be coming to me and offering it. Again when I have asked I have never been denied.

    • Eugene Lee on December 13, 2017 at 11:06 pm

      Since 2012, it is up to you to break yourself. If you have never been denied when you asked for a break, then there is no violation.

  33. Paige on December 12, 2017 at 1:32 am

    I worked in a small business yogurt shop. When we first had opened during my training the owner would forget to give me my break so by the end of my shift he would ask if I had taken any breaks and I had to take the break very close to the end of my shift or at the end of my shift. We also only had 2 full time employees (me and one other co worker) I worked the closing shift 2:30pm – 10:30pm with no one to come in to give me my breaks. Our store manager/co owner was supposed to come in and cover my breaks which was as followed. 1st break 4:30pm lunch tbd 2nd break after closing at 10pm. Lunch was tbd because the store manager didn’t know what time she would be coming in. I started taking my lunch at 4:30 because I would end up taking my lunch at 8 or 9 at night. My 10 minute breaks ended up being taken when it was slow enough for me to take them and many of the times I couldn’t rest for the full 10 minutes because customers would come in. The store manager would also call an hour before closing to ask if I had taken any breaks.

  34. Jaz on December 12, 2017 at 12:42 am

    Hello, I work overnight in a retail store. They will announce on the overhead speaker to take our 15 minute break. Management states that we are on our break the minute we stop working. However, our break room is upstairs and it can take up to 3-4 minutes to get up there. They then announce when break is over, usually calling 1-2 minutes early. When does my break begin and end? When I am “at rest” and sitting? Or when I stop working?

  35. Rory on December 11, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Hi everyone I currently work a part-time shifts in a pizza restaurant my current question is an opposite of most of your problems because we only work a maximum of six hours shift starts at 5:30 p.m. we close at 10 p.m. we’re barely here till 11:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays we are done as early as 10:15 for the shutting down the restaurant my boss is trying to force our 30-minute lunch breaks on us saying set all closers have to take a 30 minute lunch break I feel she is doing this because she can’t afford to pay all of us so she’s trying to cut her hours but this is wage fat correct is there anything I can do to combat this???

  36. Amy Myers-Barrett on December 11, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    I just found out that my 10 min breaks are not being paid for. The policy is I have to take my break right on the two hour mark after clock in. If I take it a minute late I don’t get paid for that break and they take 15 minutes from your pay.

    • Nancy on December 14, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      Your employer is breaking the law. All rest periods should be paid for. They can only remove meal periods.

  37. Colin on December 11, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    I currently work at a coffeeshop. The owner scheduled us for 6 hour shifts, with one person for each shift. I recall signing a waiver when I first began working to waive the mandatory unpaid 30-minute meal break for an compensated “on-duty meal break”. Since this is a breech of Labor Law 226.7, does this mean I am also entitled to an additional hour of pay? Or, does that only apply had I not signed the waiver, the worked 6 hours, and got compensated for the 6 hours? One of the other employees in in the latter scenario. Thank you.

  38. danny on December 11, 2017 at 9:15 am

    If the employee can’t use 10 minutes break because of being busy, can an employee has an option to use it right away after the meal period? Thanks

    • Nancy on December 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      Per California law, you cannot combine meal and rest periods. They should be taken separately.

  39. Gene on December 10, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    I started a new job at a restaurant that just opened up. Some shifts I am required to clock in and then immediately clock out for a 30 min break. Sometimes I don’t even work a full six hours. Is there a time limit that is required prior to taking a break? It doesn’t seem right that I have to start my shift with an instant break. There’s no time for rest breaks as the place can be very fast paced or if we are seen with down time, we are given tasks.

  40. Johnny on December 9, 2017 at 11:23 am

    So I’ve agreed with my employer to a paid “on-duty” meal period. Are there any penalties if I am unable to take my 10 min breaks?

    • Eugene Lee on December 9, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      Yes. Meal breaks can be waived. However rest breaks can never be waived.

  41. Tina on December 8, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    If im dcheduled to work a six hour day, am i entitled to one or two breaks. Assuming i didnt want to take a lunch?

    What about 7 hour day? One break and lunch? Or two breaks and a?lunch?

    Thanks

    • Eugene Lee on December 9, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      6 hour shift = one 10 min rest break
      >6 hour shift = two 10 min rest breaks

  42. Polly on December 7, 2017 at 6:13 am

    I have been at my current job for nearly 1 year. In this time I have NEVER recieved the required breaks, even though the ED knows that we are to receive them. She does not provide someone to cover me so I can leave the front desk. I often have to literally run to the bathroom and leave my post abandoned. Serveral times I didn’t even get my lunch. Almost every day, that I get my lunch it is well past the 6th hour. We are severely short staffed and I feel I am not being treated fairly. I was required to work on Saturday for at least 6 hours unpaid. And work overtime almost daily and forced to doctor my timecard so as to not pay us overtime. I don’t
    Know what to do. I need my job.

    • Eugene Lee on December 8, 2017 at 7:57 am

      Unfortunately, there are a LOT of employees in your same exact situation. Let’s not mince words – by not complying with wage laws, the employer is stealing your wages. You can choose to file an individual labor board claim, but that won’t be anonymous. Remember, an employer cannot punish or take action against you for filing a labor board claim. That would be illegal retaliation, permitting you to open up a separate retaliation lawsuit. However, if you prefer, you can make an anonymous report of wage violations to another division in the labor board, called the Bureau of Field Enforcement (BOFE). BOFE may then send an auditor to the job site to determine if any wage laws are being violated. If the auditor finds any violations, BOFE will then issue steep penalties to the company and could even order the company to shut down. However, you may not receive anywhere close to the full compensation you would receive by filing your own labor board claim.

      • Sarah on December 20, 2017 at 8:00 pm

        (Hypotheticall speaking) if you were to file an individual claim, could you ALSO file with BOFE? to protect yourself individually, as well as getting the company on the right track, so to speak. Thanks.

  43. Teri Vernieri on December 6, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    1. We work four 10-hour days per week, M-Th. Is the timing of the meal break the same as an 8-hour employee, meaning meal break still needs to be taken before the end of the 5th hours of work, or can it come later in the shift? If an employee WANTS to take their lunch later, for instance, by the end of the 6th or 7th hour of work, would there be legal issues with this?

    Thank you for your help!

    • Eugene Lee on December 8, 2017 at 7:51 am

      The timing requirements for breaks remains the same. You have to start your first meal break before the END of the fifth hour into your shift, and your second meal break before the END of the tenth hour into your shift. An employee is free to take a late lunch or even waive it, provided their supervisor agrees to it. Employers are not required to police breaks or make sure employees take them, but employers have the right to if they want to.

  44. Jessica on December 6, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    By boss schedules me for a 9-6 shift. I’ve been taking my 30min(not payed) and two ten min breaks. She wants us to take an hour break not payed. Can she force us to take an hour lunch un payed when scheduled for 9 hours?

    • Eugene Lee on December 8, 2017 at 7:46 am

      Yes, but if it goes over 1 hour, it could entitle you to a split shift premium (depending on how much more than minimum wage you are being paid and how many hours you are scheduled to work that day). The law entitled to at least 30 minutes of unpaid meal breaks, but employers are free to increase that.

  45. Marilu on December 6, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Is it legal if my boss is conditioning the rest breaks? For example, I cannot go to break until I finished certain task? Even tho its break time

    • Eugene Lee on December 8, 2017 at 7:44 am

      Yes and no. Yes, if you are definitely getting your rest break and it is reasonably close to the middle of each 4 hour work period. No, if later never comes and you never get to go on your rest break. Employers aren’t required by law to set specific daily break schedules, although they have the right to do so at their discretion. Since specific break schedules are discretionary, employers can alter them as well. However, if there is something in writing that says otherwise, like an employee manual, a union collective bargaining agreement, a policy, an offer letter, an employment agreement, etc., then the employer’s failure to let you go on your break per the written document could potentially be a “breach of contract”.

  46. Brian Shahon on December 6, 2017 at 6:16 am

    How early can the employer send an employee to their 30 minute meal break when the employee works a 10 hour shift?

    • Eugene Lee on December 8, 2017 at 7:41 am

      First, I want to point out that if work 10 hours or less, you only get 1 meal break, but if you are working MORE than 10 hours, you get a second meal break.

      Second, the California Supreme Court has stated in a 2012 case called Brinker that in an 8 hour shift, there needs to be 2 separate 10-minute paid rest breaks before AND after a 30-minute unpaid meal break. I think the same applies to a 10 hour shift. So while I don’t have a more specific answer for you, I think you can safely say that the meal break needs to occur after you have already taken your first 10-minute paid rest break.

  47. Gerardo on December 6, 2017 at 3:07 am

    Hi there, Those this apply to hotel night audit, I work at a hotel from 10 pm to 6 am, I work 8 hours straight, as a valet parking, when I started here they would pay my lunch because I’m always on duty, but now they want me to take my lunch and that’s ok, but if a guest comes I still have to help so usually I never get longer than 15 min without doing something, unless it is 3:30 am to 4:30am thats when everything slowdown but we still get guests that required service at that time. If I dont clocked out for lunch they do a correction and I have to approve it even though I didn’t take my lunch.

    • Eugene Lee on December 8, 2017 at 7:39 am

      Gerardo, I think you already know that what you’ve described is against the law. You must be relieved of all duty while on your lunch break. And if you are having to deal with guests while on lunch break, then you should not be punched out as you are working and need to be paid for that work. I recommend you bring the above up IN WRITING to your supervisors. If they don’t correct the problem, then you should consider filing a labor board claim.

  48. Melissa on December 5, 2017 at 1:18 am

    Is an employee allowed to leave job during 10 mins break or is it mandatory to stay inside during that timeframe?

    • Eugene Lee on December 5, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      The Labor Board has stated that the employer CAN require employees to stay on premises during their rest breaks, and that is because rest breaks are paid. However, a California court opinion, Augustus, et al. v. ABM Security Services, Inc, seems to suggest that an employer must “relinquish control” completely over employees during rest breaks and must not “tether” an employee to a particular location. Unfortunately, I don’t think Augustus really clears up this issue. Unless something changes, I would go with the Labor Board’s interpretation – an employer can require employees to stay on premises during paid rest breaks.

  49. Brandon on December 4, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    So i work in a bar and grill and i have been working there for 5 months plus, i work 8 or more hours a shift and never till this day have i ever recieved a 30 min break. They let us smoke a cig a couple times but if you take longer than 7 or mins they bitch. Do i have a case here at all?

    • Eugene Lee on December 5, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      Yes you do. If you work 8 hours, you must receive a 30-minute meal break and two 10-minute rest breaks, and nothing less than that. You should consider filing a labor board claim

  50. Shana on December 4, 2017 at 10:56 am

    I am an employer in the manufacturing industry – wage order 1. We produce a food product so employees are required to wear hairnets, wash their hands, and put on aprons before entering the processing floor. Is performing these tasks violating the “duty free” clause? Currently we require them to be ready to work by the end of that 10 minutes. I am wondering if we should be allowing them additional 1 or 2 minutes?

    • Eugene Lee on December 5, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      That area of the law is called “donning and doffing”. Prework activities that are essential to the job must be compensated. That includes putting on hairnets, washing hands and putting on aprons. Donning and doffing activities are compensable and the worker must be paid for that time. Since rest breaks must be duty free, I would tend to think you should allow them the additional time needed outside of the 10-minute rest break to don and doff.

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