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California labor laws offer more protections to employees than most other states in America. Under state law, all non-exempt employees qualify for a mandatory meal and rest breaks during shifts. This includes a 30-minute meal break for every five hours worked in most situations, and 10-minute rest breaks for every four hours worked. If you believe your employer has violated your meal and rest rights in Los Angeles, consult with an employment attorney to learn about your rights.
California’s wage and hour labor laws are largely in favor of employees. They strive to keep workers happy, healthy, and satisfied with their jobs. One such law provides mandatory meal and rest breaks for most employees. The law entitles all employees to at least one 30-minute meal break (unpaid) every five hours, unless the employee’s shift is only six hours or less. These breaks must be 30 minutes of uninterrupted time.
Employers cannot pressure workers to end their breaks early or start them late to finish a project. Employees must have no work duties during this meal period and can leave the premises if desired during the break. If an employee works 10 hours or longer in a single shift, he or she can take two 30-minute meal breaks, unless the employee will be working less than 12 hours. In this scenario, an employee can only waive the second meal break if he or she did not waive the first one.
Your employer will have to pay you for a 30-minute meal break if he or she requires that you work during the break, if you’re on duty for any part of your break, or if you have to remain on the premises during the break. Employees can also take 10-minute rest breaks for every four hours worked. This means 10 minutes of paid, completely off-duty time. Employers cannot force employees to clock out for 10-minute rest breaks.
Almost all employees in California qualify for rest and meal breaks. The only time an employer can waive an employee’s right to meal and rest breaks is with a mutual written agreement with the employee, or if the employee does not work more than six hours in a shift. Unfortunately, lunch and rest break violations are some of the most common ways employers abuse their power over employees. Violating California’s meal and rest rules can expose the employer to liability for damages – not just to reimburse the missing wages and hours, but also for additional penalties.
If you win a case against your employer for missed meal and rest breaks, you could be eligible to receive pay for missed wages. Your employer (past or present) will have to pay one hour of wages for each day he or she violated your meal or rest breaks, as well as any corresponding overtime pay for the missed hours. You could qualify for retroactive pay for wage and hour violations on top of any applicable penalties. To learn more, sign up for a free consultation with a Los Angeles employment lawyer.