As a business owner in California, you are obligated to make sure you meet meal and break requirements for your employees. Otherwise, the penalties can add up quickly.

Meal-Break Requirements in California 800x800Meal-Break Requirements in California

California employers must allow their nonexempt employees to take a 30-minute meal break once they work over 5 hours a day. Also, the mealtime should start before the end of the fifth hour of their workday. However, employees can enter into an agreement with their employer. An employee can waive this meal period provided they don’t work more than 6 hours a day.

If employees work more than 10 hours in a day they are entitled to a second meal break. This meal breakmust be at least 30 minutes and must start before the end of the tenth hour of their shift. Similarly, they can agree with their employer to waive the second meal break if they don’t work more than 12 hours and did not waive their first meal break.

Employers must do everything possible to communicate the legal requirements of California’s employee break laws to nonexempt workers and provide them opportunities to take meal and rest breaks without:

  • Requiring them to perform any duties at all.
  • Exhorting any control over their activities.
  • Hindering them from doing so.

Employers do not have to make sure employees take their meal breaks and there is no duty to police meal breaks. However, if they notice that employees continue working during their rest and meal periods, they should address and correct the situation.

10-Minute Rest Break Requirements in California

Non-Exempt employees in California are entitled to a 10-minute paid break for every 4 hours worked. The rest break should be taken in the middle of the four-hour period and must be uninterrupted.

If an employee works less than three and one-half hours in a day, a rest period is not required.

If the opportunity for a meal or rest break is not provided or those break times are somehow interrupted, the employer owes one hour of pay to the employee. This time must be included in the next paycheck.

On-Duty Meal Break

In some occupations, the nature of the work prevents an employee to be relieved of all duty. In such cases, the meal period is considered an on-duty meal break. On-duty meal periods are counted as time worked and must be paid.

Even if the employee is only required to remain on site without performing any duties, the meal break is deemed to be an “on duty” meal period.

On-duty meal periods are permitted only if the employee consents to them in writing. The employee is also allowed to revoke them at any time (in writing). Employers are advised to consult with legal counsel before authorizing on-duty meal arrangements.

At Chexperts Payroll Solutions, we are committed to providing you with valuable information regarding rules and requirements around managing your employees. To discuss how we can support you, contact us here…

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