Many jobs require demanding work at a fast pace or in high heat so every minute of rest time is critical to employees. California employers must provide a ten minute paid rest period for every four hours an employee works. For most workers, that means they should receive two rest breaks per eight hour shift and a third rest break if the shift is longer than ten hours. Not getting a full ten minute rest break is just as illegal as not getting any rest break at all. So if an employee has to spend part of a ten minute break walking to and from the breakroom, the employee is not receiving a legally required rest break. Employees must be relieved of all duty during rest breaks. So if any employee is required to monitor a phone or a radio or be available to answer a customer or co-worker question during a rest break, the employer may also be breaking the law.
Some California employers use computer “analytics” or “big data” to pressure employees to work through rest breaks. Typically, the employer will have a computer model that says an employee should be able to accomplish a certain amount of work in a certain period of time. Employees who don’t make the work goals, which are often based on bad data, are penalized. Employees have to work through their rest breaks or to shorten their rest breaks so they won’t get in trouble. Pressuring workers to skip or shorten rest breaks is illegal, especially when the pressure is coming from an unrealistic computer model.
If you feel that you are not receiving the correct number of daily rest breaks or full ten minute rest breaks, you should consult an experienced employment attorney to see if your employer is breaking the law. Employers that violate the rest period laws may have to pay substantial penalties to the state and their workers.