Currently, there is no federal law that requires employers to provide employees with meal and rest periods. The federal wage and hour law, or the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), does not require employers to provide meal or rest breaks. Some states, however, have implemented laws that require employees to have such breaks. Not all states require employees to have these breaks.
Most of the time, employers will provide their employees with meal or rest breaks but some may be unpaid. There are some states that permit employers to select between giving meal breaks or rest breaks. Some states only require an employer to provide employees with restroom breaks.
California is a state that requires employers provide their employees with a meal break and a rest break during their shift. California also requires the employer to pay the employee during some of these break times. The California lunch break law requires the employer to provide an unpaid lunch break.
The California rest break law requires the employer to provide a paid rest break. It is important for employees to be able to eat during their shift and take a break from their work, especially in labor intensive jobs.
Is My Employer in California Required to Give Me a Meal or Rest Break?
Yes, California is one of the states that is required to provide employees with meal and rest breaks during their shifts.
The California lunch break law requires employers to give their employees a 30 minute lunch break after the employee has worked a minimum of 5 hours. The employer is not required to pay the employee during this lunch break.
There can be variations of this time frame when, for example, an employee only works 6 hours per shift and requests to waive the lunch break and get paid for that time working instead. If an employee is required to take their meal break on the work premises, the employer must provide a suitable place to take the break.
Unless an employee is working in the broadcasting or motion picture industries, there are several rules regarding meal breaks when an employee has worked a shift longer than 5 hours, including:
- At least a 30 minute meal break must be provided;
- The meal break cannot be taken until 2 hours into the shift; and
- The meal break cannot start more than 5 hours after the shift begins.
The California rest break law requires that employers provide their employees with rest breaks during their shifts. Employers must provide a 10 minute rest break when an employee has worked at least 4 hours. The employer must pay for these breaks.
Because the employees are being paid during this break time, they must remain on work premises during the break. The employee may choose what to do during their break times, but the breaks may be subject to any policies the employer has established.
Are Employees in California Required to Take Their Breaks?
No, employees in California are not required to take breaks provided by their employers. The California Supreme Court has held that employers are required to provide a meal and rest break to their employees but the employer is not required to monitor whether or not those breaks are used. Employees are permitted to skip their meal or rest breaks if they so desire.
However, working during the provided meal or rest break times does not permit the employee to utilize that time at the end of their shift to leave work early.
Are the Laws Different for Different Groups of Employees?
Laws pertaining to meal and rest breaks vary from state to state. For example, in Florida, no state law exists requiring an employer to provide an employee with rest or meal breaks. There may be age-specific laws in certain states. For example, in Florida, employees under the age of 17 are entitled to a 30 minute break during each 4 hour work period. State laws differ based on the nature of the job and the intensity of the work during shifts.
In states where meal breaks are required, if an employee is required to work while eating, the employee has the right to be paid for that time. However, if the employee is totally relieved of work duties during the meal break, they are not entitled to compensation during that time. Stat rules may vary based on the type of occupation.
There are different rules for workers who are minors. Under the FLSA, these laws apply to individuals under the age of 16. Most states also have rules regarding labor hours of those between the ages of 16 and 17. Most rules regarding minors required them to work less hours and have breaks during short periods of work.
Is My Employer Required to Pay Me During My Rest or Meal Breaks?
Under Federal law, an employer is not required to provide employees with meal or rest breaks. However, if an employer does provide break times, federal law requires the employer to pay employees during breaks that last between 5 and 20 minutes.
Under federal law, an employer is not required to pay an employee for a break lasting 30 minutes or longer. If you have additional questions regarding your work and break arrangements, you may need to inquire with an employment lawyer for more guidance.
Can I Sue My Employer in California for Not Providing Breaks?
Yes, there are consequences in California for an employer not giving breaks. California employers may face harsh penalties for failing to provide meal and rest breaks. These penalties can include large fines. If the employer fails to provide an employee with a meal break, the employer must provide the employee one extra hour of pay in addition to the employee’s regular paid hours.
If the employer does not provide a rest break to an employee, the employer must provide 1 hour of wages for each missed rest break. These extra wages should be included on the employee’s next paycheck after the breaks are missed. An employee who has been denied breaks has three years to claim the unpaid wages.
Are Injuries Sustained During Meal or Rest Breaks Covered by Worker’s Compensation Insurance?
Injuries sustained during meal and rest breaks may or may not be covered by worker’s compensation insurance, depending on the circumstances. If an employee’s injury occurs during lunch, whether or not the injury is covered depends on whether or not the employee was relieved of work duties during the lunch break.
If the employee was totally relieved of work duties during the lunch break, the injury may be considered outside the scope of employment because the employee was not working at the time. An injury sustained during a rest break is likely to be covered by worker’s compensation insurance because the break is usually considered to be within the scope of employment.
Do I Need an Employment Lawyer?
Yes. An experienced employment lawyer can help you determine whether meal and rest breaks are required in your state. An experienced employment lawyer can also assist you with your claim if your employer has not provided required meal and rest breaks. The employment lawyer may also help you determine if you may have any other wage disputes.