California Lunch and Break Law Regulations

In looking over current laws related to meals and breaks on the job, I found that California is one of 19 states regulating meals and breaks for employees.

For all employees working 5 hours or more consecutively, California state law stipulates that a meal period of 30 minutes or more must be provided. This does not apply if the total work per day of the employee is six hours or less and the right to take a meal break is mutually waived by both the worker and the employer. A second meal period of 30 minutes or more is required if the employee works 10 hours or more. This may again be mutually waived if the total working time for the day is less than 12 hours and only if the first meal period was not waived.

This 30 minute meal break may generally be unpaid, but only if the employee is completely relieved of his or her duties. If the worker must do any job duties during the meal break, or even if employees are required to stay on the job site during the break, it must instead be a paid meal break. An exception to this rule is sometimes found in situations where it is not practical for a worker to be completely relieved of his or her duties – for example, in the case of a gas station employee working the night shift alone. An “on-duty” meal period may be unpaid if both the employer and the employee agree to it in writing.

I also found it interesting that California law also mandates paid rest periods for non-exempt workers (typically these are employees paid hourly rather than on salary). For each four hour work period or “significant fraction thereof” (usually considered anything over two hours), a worker must be given a ten minute paid rest period. If an employee works less than three and a half hours in a given day, the rest period is not required. The law also stipulates that rest periods should be taken, as much as is practical, near the middle of that work period.

A thorough presentation of state and federal laws related to lunches and breaks may be found on the California Complete Labor Law Poster. This poster also presents the required notices for all areas of both state and federal labor laws.

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208 Thoughts on “California Lunch and Break Law Regulations”

Mateo

February 3, 2015 at 3:25 am

Hi Amelia

I work for an abulance company i work the night shift, 12 hrs the company give us a 1 hr lunch break 10 min breaks, my question is can they deduct that one hr break even if they post us at night in the ambulance also my last 4 checks have been bouncing can i do something about it

kat

February 7, 2015 at 10:29 am

what if i don’t want to take my lunch break right at the 5 hour mark? i start work at 6:30 am and like to take my lunch at 12:00, which is 5 1/2 hours into my work day. can my employer legally allow me to do this? or am i forced to follow the 5 hour rule? i am in california

mia

February 10, 2015 at 1:17 am

We got a new boss not long ago and I heard rumors that he wants to get rid of all the old employees and hire new ones so he can train them, well. I’m one of the first employees that helped stock the store when it was just opening. Apparently he’s been giving write UPS alot up to 4 to a person since he came 3 employees have quit, their are only myself and another girl that are left, he recently hired 4 new employees and he’s buddy buddy with one of the guys that doesn’t have that long, working there. That is a known pot head, well I’ve been getting write up’s cause of him, because he don’t do his job that’s was asked of him, cause we have a daily task’s sheet that tells what employee does what for the night or day, cause he said he does it when he don’t while I’m doing paperwork counting the end of day deposit money, counting cigarettes, so I get write up’s, I been getting 32hrs a week but when I recently started making sure the other employees started doing what they are supposed to do, I have not gotten write up’s. They always have the schedule for 2 weeks up and I was starting the 2nd week that day so I came in and seen that he cut all my hours I had 38hr that week and only 1 day off. But he cut them off and only gave me 2 days only one for 4.5hrs and 6hr for a total of 10.5hrs and this week he only gave me a day of work of 6hrs, at my job they give you a10min break on the 2nd hr. And lunch before the 5th hr. My boss. Been leaving me alone to work the store multitasking from being cash register, stocking merchandise and receiving trucks all by myself for 4.5hrs with no break, my boss is obviously gang related or something cause he talks to us with no respect at all, he answered is like “ight” and he tells us “ight foo” so I really don’t know what to do

Mark

February 15, 2015 at 11:20 am

Been disciplined for working over my 5th hour the Home Depot to assist Customers , is it my fault? as we have to help all customers and not walk away !
instead I should have helped the customer and filing a paper punch which in essence is nothing but defrauding the system to balance the books .

Betty

May 4, 2015 at 8:39 pm

I use to work 8hrs a day ,i use to get 15min break, 30min lunch and 10min break. Now hours are cut to 6hrs i only get a15min break and 30min lunch, not the 10min break because we only work 6hrs is that okay

Elizabeth

June 2, 2015 at 3:57 pm

So i work at Dennys i usually work Thursday thru sunday my schedule says im suppose to work 6am to 11am do i legally have to take a break even if the first hour counts as the prior day?…. theres times i get a break and end up leaving earlier because its slow are they allowed to do that?

NUBIA

June 5, 2015 at 8:21 pm

I work at 9:30am and now we get two 15min break and we have to clock out. And a lunch is 30min. But they tell us our two fifteen min break is being paid for but we’re not being paid.

Laura

June 16, 2015 at 12:34 pm

I was just fired for being 5 mins late clocking “out” for lunch at a big red dot store. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?. It was only Part time, but I have worked there over a year and a half. I think it has more to do with the fact that I recently had a fall on the premises and they are looking for a way to get rid of me, at any rate, I believe that others, no – I KNOW that others have only received warnings when this has happened to them, and the system was defrauded by a “corrected punch” to allow them their jobs. What can I do?

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