Meal Breaks


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.


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


• Allowing a thirty-meal break within the first five-hours, but while employees are performing job duties

• Allowing a duty-free meal break within the first five hours, but the break is less than thirty-minutes;

• Giving employees a full thirty-minute break without job duties, but after the first five hours of work;


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 your employer is not allowing you to take a thirty-minute work-free meal break within every five-hours that you work, you are likely entitled to one-hour of pay for each shift where you didn't take a break for the last FOUR YEARS. For a free evaluation of your meal break case, please tell us about your case.