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What are my meal break rights?

Non-exempt employees are entitled to a full duty-free meal break before the fifth hour of work and, where an employee works twelve or more hours in a shift, she or he is entitled a second duty-free meal break by the tenth hour in the shift. California Labor Code §512.

When do employers violate my meal break rights?

Many employers implement the following meal policies or practices, which are illegal in most cases:

  • “Working” meal breaks: Allowing a thirty-meal break within the first five-hours, but while employees still have job responsibility, including being on-call.
  • Short meal breaks: Allowing a duty-free meal break within the first five hours, but the break is less than thirty-minutes; and
  • Late meal breaks: Providing employees a full thirty-minute break without job duties, but after the first five hours of work.
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My Employer Violated My Meal Break Rights. Now What?

Employers must pay one-hour’s pay for each day on which they did not provide a proper meal break to employees (California Labor Code §226.7). provides that employers who do not provide a timely thirty-minute off-duty meal break to employees must pay the employee one-hour’s premium pay for each day on which a meal break was not provided. If a group of employees at your workplace were not provided with meal breaks, then it may be possible to file a class action on behalf of all employees who were not provided with meal breaks.

If you were not able to take meal breaks at any time over the last four years, we may be able to help. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

In California, employees are entitled to a paid ten minute rest break for each 3.5 hours, or major fraction thereof, that they work. Rest breaks must be completely free of job duties and job responsibilities. The California Supreme Court in its 2016 landmark decision Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., (2016) 2 Cal.5th 257 found that “on-call” rest breaks are still on-duty, even where the employees are never actually called to duty during the breaks

Employees who are paid on a piece-rate or commission basis are still entitled to paid rest breaks, and their employers must pay their rest break compensation separately. See Bluford v. Safeway Stores, Inc. (2013) 216 Cal.App.4th 864 and Vaquero v. Stoneledge Furniture, LLC (2017) 9 Cal.App.5th 98.

California Labor Code §226.7 provides that employers who do not provide a timely paid ten-minute rest break to employees must pay each employee one-hour’s premium pay for each day on which a meal break was not authorized and permitted.

Common scenarios where employers fail to authorize and permit rest breaks include:

  • Employees who are required to keep their cell phones, walkie-talkie, or some other communication device powered-on during rest breaks;
  • Where employees have other job responsibilities, such as a cement truck driver who must keep his or car truck in the line of vision during breaks;
  • Employees are provided with off-duty rest breaks, but they are paid on a commission or piece-rate basis so that the breaks are not pa

Have you always been able to take a timely 10 minute off-duty rest break over the last four years? If not, we may be able to help, and we offer a free consultation.

Rest Breaks

In California, employees are entitled to a paid ten minute rest break for each 3.5 hours, or major fraction thereof, that they work. Rest breaks must be completely free of job duties and job responsibilities. The California Supreme Court in its 2016 landmark decision Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., (2016) 2 Cal.5th 257 found that “on-call” rest breaks are still on-duty, even where the employees are never actually called to duty during the breaks

Employees who are paid on a piece-rate or commission basis are still entitled to paid rest breaks, and their employers must pay their rest break compensation separately. See Bluford v. Safeway Stores, Inc. (2013) 216 Cal.App.4th 864 and Vaquero v. Stoneledge Furniture, LLC (2017) 9 Cal.App.5th 98.

California Labor Code §226.7 provides that employers who do not provide a timely paid ten-minute rest break to employees must pay each employee one-hour’s premium pay for each day on which a meal break was not authorized and permitted.

Common scenarios where employers fail to authorize and permit rest breaks include:

  • Employees who are required to keep their cell phones, walkie-talkie, or some other communication device powered-on during rest breaks;
  • Where employees have other job responsibilities, such as a cement truck driver who must keep his or car truck in the line of vision during breaks;
  • Employees are provided with off-duty rest breaks, but they are paid on a commission or piece-rate basis so that the breaks are not pa

Have you always been able to take a timely 10 minute off-duty rest break over the last four years? If not, we may be able to help, and we offer a free consultation.

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