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Meal and Rest Periods
Generally, you have greater rights under California wage and hour law than you do under federal law. Under federal law when employers offer short breaks, these are compensable work hours and will be considered in deciding whether overtime was worked. However, under California law, meal periods should be available on a certain schedule, depending on the hours you worked. They are unpaid. Similarly, rest breaks need to be provided on a certain schedule, but they are paid. What you do during those periods should be your choice. If an employer doesn’t comply with strict requirements related to your meal and rest periods in California, you may be able to hold them accountable. A dedicated El Segundo wage and hour attorney can help you evaluate your legal options.Meal and Rest Breaks Under Law
In California, a rest break must consist of at least 10 paid minutes in a row that aren’t interrupted for purposes of resting. When you work a minimum of 3.5 hours, you should get one rest break. When you work more than 6 hours, you should get a second rest break. When you work more than 10 hours, you’re entitled to a third rest break. You can’t be forced to stay on the premises during your rest breaks, and you can’t be made to work during rest breaks. You’re also free to skip rest breaks if your boss is not making you take them.
California law also requires that you be provided with meal breaks. Meal breaks need to be at least 30 minutes, and they need to commence before the end of the fifth hour of the shift. You and your boss may agree to waive the meal period as long as you don’t work more than 6 hours in a workday. You and your boss can voluntarily agree that you have a meal break in which you’re still on duty, and this can be paid and counted as time worked. However, those employees who work more than 10 hours during the day may take a second meal break of at least 30 minutes, and it should commence before the termination of the tenth hour of their shift. They can agree with their boss to waive the second meal break, but only if they didn’t waive the first meal break or work more than 12 hours. You should be able to take the break off the premises and do what you want during the required meal break.Suing Your Employer for California Meal and Rest Period Violations
You can sue your employer for meal and rest break violations, and a seasoned employment law attorney can help. Your employer will need to pay penalties if it violated California meal and rest period laws. If you can establish violations, you should be able to obtain a penalty of 1 hour of wages for each day you were denied rest breaks. You can also collect one hour of wages each day you were denied meal breaks. The total penalty and damages are three times a normal hour’s wages when no breaks were given.Experienced Wage and Hour Attorney in El Segundo
There is no monetary benefit to skipping rest breaks, though you can choose to work through them. The key issue is whether the choice was yours not to take a rest break. Your employer can’t pressure you to skip breaks, whether by asking you not to take them or putting in place deadlines that require you to skip them. You should have a reasonable opportunity to take rest and meal periods in El Segundo, and during that time, you should be able to not perform any job duties, your employer should release control over what you do, and you shouldn’t be hindered from taking the break. If your employer interfered with your meal or rest period, did not pay you for overtime, or otherwise failed to follow applicable wage and hour laws, you can consult a skillful employment lawyer at the Calderone Law Firm. Call us at (424) 348-8290 or complete our online form to learn more about your legal rights.