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California Labor Laws: Meal Breaks and Rest Periods

By Edited Feb 10, 2014 0 0

Every human being needs to eat at least two heavy meals a day in order for him to think and function effectively. And because employees are all human beings, this fact also applies to them. Unfortunately, some employers fail to provide the right amount of time for their employees to eat and take breaks from work. If you are living in California and you are experiencing this kind of unfair treatment, here are two important terms you need to know:

Meal Breaks

In California, employers are required to provide meal breaks to their employees. Bonafide meal breaks under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) would not be paid by employers. This means if an employee gets 30 minutes of meal break for every five hours of work, that period of time would not be paid by his employer. If he works for at least eight hours a day, he is entitled to receive one hour of unpaid meal break from his employer.

In addition, an employer is not allowed to put meal breaks before or at the end of his employees' shift. Unless his employees work for only six hours a day, this is prohibited by California meal break laws.

Rest Periods

Unlike meal breaks, rest periods are still paid by employers. Under the labor laws in California, company workers should have at least 10 minutes of rest period after working for two straight hours. Some employers who value their employees even extend this period to 20 minutes.

Under California meal break and rest period laws, if an employer does not provide breaks to his employees, he would be required to pay an hour of his employees' regular wage for that day. If the employer refuses to pay his employees, then it is time for them to take legal action.

Filing a complaint against an employer for not providing breaks is an easy task. Employees just need to follow the steps below:

  • Seek legal assistance.
  • Gather employment records and documents.
  • Provide evidence that their employer failed to give them meal and rest breaks.

Once the employees win their complaint, the court will oblige the employer to pay all their losses. If he did not provide rest periods and meal breaks for a month, he will need to pay his employees for their accumulated losses. If an employer does not want to spend a fortune paying for compensatory damages, he should learn to be more considerate and treat his employees fairly.

This article is not meant to be interpreted as a legal advice. To know the available legal options regarding your case, consult an Employment Law Attorney for more information.


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