California Lunch Break Laws

California lunch break laws

Between getting to work on time and completing your daily tasks, remember that your rest time is an essential part of your workday.

California meal and rest break laws require that employees receive time to rest and eat after working a certain amount of time.

If your employer refuses to give you adequate breaks, you could be entitled to additional pay. 

If you want to know a little more about break time in California law, take a look at our guide below.

And if you notice a violation of your rights, let our experienced attorneys at Starpoint Employment Law recover what you deserve from your employer. 

What Is the California Lunch Break Law?

California lunch break laws require employers to provide meal breaks to certain employees throughout their workdays.

So, when should you receive a meal break? And how long of a break should you receive? 

An Employer’s General Obligation to Provide Meal Breaks 

If you are a non-exempt employee, you should receive the following

  • For shifts that are longer than five hours – at least one 30-minute meal break; and
  • For shifts that are longer than 10 hours – at least two meal breaks, each lasting 30 minutes or longer.

Your employer does not have to pay you during your meal break.

However, your employer cannot require you to perform any work or remain at your workplace during an unpaid meal break.

If you have to perform work tasks or remain on your employer’s premises during your meal break, your employer has to pay you for that “on-duty” break.

California law allows on-duty meal breaks only when the nature of your job requires them and you have entered a written, revocable agreement to have on-duty meal breaks. 

Exceptions to California’s Meal Break Law

Depending on your area of work or your employment contract, you might not be entitled to as many meal breaks as other employees in California.

The following exceptions apply to the California lunch break law: 

  • An employee in the motion picture industry does not have a right to a meal break if their shift lasts six hours or fewer; 
  • If an employee works six hours or fewer, they can consent to their employer waiving their meal break; and 
  • If an employee works between 10 and 12 hours in a shift, they can consent to their employer waiving their second meal break, but not the first. 

Also, if you work in the film industry, your meal breaks cannot be less than 30 minutes or more than one hour.

What Is the Rest Break Law in California? 

If you are an employee in California, rest break laws provide some significant benefits.

In general, you must receive a 10-minute, paid rest period for every four hours of work in a shift. Ideally, a rest period should occur in the middle of each four-hour block.

However, your right to a rest period might increase or decrease according to the type of work you perform.

Speak to an attorney to ensure you receive all breaks you are due under the law. 

Filing a Complaint for Rest Break or Meal Break Violations

An employer who violates an employee’s rights under California’s break laws must pay the employee for an extra hour of work for each violation.

You can recover this compensation by filing a civil lawsuit or a wage claim with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office. You have three years to file your complaint. 

Speak to Our Attorneys Today

If your employer does not provide you with proper breaks, they are committing wage theft, and you have a right to recover compensation.

To give yourself the best opportunity to recover everything your employer owes you, speak to a skilled employment attorney.

Our experienced employment attorneys at Starpoint Law have not lost a case and are serious about empowering employees against mistreatment in the workplace.

We listen to our clients to make sure we understand what they need, and we fight fiercely and skillfully for their rights.

Call or contact us online if you need help holding your employer accountable.

Author Photo

Aidin Ghavimi

Aidin is a partner at Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law, and focuses on personal injury and employment law cases in and around Southern California. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola School of Law and his Bachelor’s from USC. Aidin’s primary goal is to bring justice to his clients and to ensure they are able to move on with their lives after a serious injury.

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