Many California employers obey the California labor laws. Unfortunately, some don’t. One of the top ways dishonest employers steal time and money from their workers is stealing hours.
California employers must provide a 30 minute off-duty meal period for every 5 hours that an employee works. Employees who work more than 10 hours in a day are entitled to a second 30 minute off-duty meal period. Off-duty means workers must be free to leave the workplace and not be under the employer’s control for the whole meal period. If an employee has time to eat a quick lunch, but doesn’t have time to take a full 30 minute off-duty meal period, the employer is violating the law. If an employer provides exactly 30 minutes for a meal period but requires employees to do some other action such as go through a security check or turn in equipment after clocking out for lunch, the employer may be violating the law. It’s also illegal for an employer to pressure employees to skip meal periods or to work during lunch. So if an employer has unrealistic production goals that make it hard for employees to take 30 minute meal periods, the employer is violating the law. Employers that violate the rest period laws may have to pay substantial penalties to the state and their workers.