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Rest & Meal Breaks Requirements for Workers in California


By law, California’s non-exempt employees must take rest and meal breaks according to the number of hours they work each workday. If you are a non-exempt employee, it’s important to ensure you receive the opportunities to take the breaks you are entitled to by law. Work can be physically and mentally exhausting, which makes these intermittent periods of reprieve all the more crucial to take.

California’s Requirements for Rest Breaks
The California Labor Code provides that non-exempt employees are to rest breaks when they work three-and-a-half (3.5) or more hours per day. If an employee works for fewer than 3.5 hours per day, they are not entitled to a rest break.

Breaks must last for at least 10 minutes and recur for each four hours worked but in the middle of each four-hour period. In other words, breaks should neither occur before or after a four-hour period of work. For example, an employer should not require an employee to clock-in and immediately go on a break.

As long as these requirements are met, employers can provide employees with additional rest break opportunities or rest periods longer than 10 minutes. No matter what, though, an employee’s time spent on a rest break is always paid.

Meal Break Requirements in California

Meal breaks are handled similarly to rest breaks in California. A non-exempt employee is entitled to a 30-minute meal break when they work more than five hours in a day. They must also take this meal break before beginning their fifth hour of work. Employees can agree to waive this meal period as long as they will work no more than six hours in a day.

Employees who are working more than 10 hours a day must receive a second meal break, but they can also waive this break if they are not working more than 12 hours and didn’t waive their first meal break.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney?

If you believe your employer isn’t providing you with the rest and/or meal breaks you are legally entitled to take, reach out to our employment law attorney for assistance. We at K2 Employment Law have many years of experience helping clients in situations similar to yours recover the compensation they were owed.

For more information, contact us online and ask about scheduling a free initial consultation with our team.