Although there are exceptions for certain industries and positions, most California employers must provide employees with a 30 minute meal period break for every 5 hours the employee works. The meal period break must be off duty, which means the employee must be fully relieved of his or her duties during the break. An employer that fails to provide a 30 minute meal period must pay an employee who works through his or her meal period one hour’s pay as a penalty. This is in addition to the pay due the employee for the actual time worked when he or she should have been on break.
An employee may work through his or her meal period with no penalty to the employer if the employee chooses to do so. But if the employer knows that the employee worked during the meal period break, the employer must pay him or her for the time worked. Also, if the employer pressures the employee to work through his or her break, the employer must pay the penalty.
California employers must also provide a paid rest break of at least 10 minutes for every four hours an employee works. The rest break must be as near to the middle of the four hour period as is practicable for the employer.
While the penalty for failing to provide a meal period may seem small, it can add up to a substantial amount of money if the violation continues over time. If your employer has failed to provide meal or rest period breaks, you may be able to recover wages due and penalties. Contact the Law Offices of G. Samuel Cleaver by email or phone at 323-648-6676 for a free consultation.