What are my meal break rights?
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. California Labor Code §512.
When do employers violate my meal break rights?
Many employers implement the following meal policies or practices, which are illegal in most cases:
- “Working” meal breaks: Allowing a thirty-meal break within the first five-hours, but while employees still have job responsibility, including being on-call.
- Short meal breaks: Allowing a duty-free meal break within the first five hours, but the break is less than thirty-minutes; and
- Late meal breaks: Providing employees a full thirty-minute break without job duties, but after the first five hours of work.
My Employer Violated My Meal Break Rights. Now What?
Employers must pay one-hour’s pay for each day on which they did not provide a proper meal break to employees (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 a group of employees at your workplace were not provided with meal breaks, then it may be possible to file a class action on behalf of all employees who were not provided with meal breaks.
If you were not able to take meal breaks at any time over the last four years, we may be able to help. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.