Meal and Rest Periods
In California, all non-exempt employees who work for longer than five hours are entitled to one uninterrupted thirty-minute meal period during that first five hours. If the employee works for longer than ten hours in a workday, then the employee is entitled to an additional 30-minute lunch break between the sixth and tenth hour.
In addition to lunch breaks, employees should be provided a ten-minute rest break in the first 3.5 hours of work; another before the sixth hour of work; and yet another before the tenth hour of work. When an employer does not provide their employees with their required rest and meal periods, the employer must provide premium compensation for the missed meal and/or rest breaks. Specifically, if you miss one or all lunches owed in a given day, or any of those lunches is under 30 minutes in length, or if it is taken late, then you may be entitled to an additional hour of premium pay at your regular hourly rate for the missed lunch break or breaks.
In addition, if you miss one or all rests owed in a given day, or any of those rests are under 10 minutes in length, or if one or all are taken late, you may be entitled to an additional hour of premium pay at your regularly hourly rate for the missed rest break or breaks.
Many employers routinely require their non-exempt employees to skip mandated lunch and rest breaks during a work day, provide them with short lunches or breaks, provide them with late lunches or breaks, or force them to combine lunches or rests in violation of law. Also, often times, employees are not able to take their meal and rest periods because they have no one else to relieve them of their duties or they are too busy with work such that they cannot take their periods.
If you work less than six hours in a day, you may waive your right to lunch or a premium payment by agreement with an employer. However, you cannot waive your right to that lunch period if you work more than six hours in a day without being paid one hour of premium pay for the waived lunch. If you work between 10 and 12 hours in a day and are thus entitled to a second lunch period, you can waive your second lunch period by agreement with your employer without pay. However, if you work more than 12 hours in a day, you cannot waive your right to either lunch period without being paid one hour of premium pay for missing that lunch or both lunches.
If you are unable to take your full lunch and rest breaks in a given day and are not being offered pay for missing them, don’t hesitate to give Los Angeles Meal and Rest Break Attorney David Bibiyan and his staff a call to determine if your rights are being violated and if you are entitled to back pay for missed lunch and rest breaks.