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Meal Breaks in California

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2014 | Articles, Employment Litigation

In California, employers are required to give you a 30-minute lunch break. These breaks are supposed to be off duty, meaning that an employee is free to leave the property if he or she pleases. In the event that the employer doesn’t allow you a break, they have to pay you for it. In fact, unless all four of these conditions are met, they are required by law to allow you a half hour to eat, rest, and be off the clock.

Condition #1– They must release you of all work.

Condition #2– They don’t try to persuade you not to take your break.

Condition #3– They have to give you a chance to take your lunch break.

Condition #4– They have to give up control of all of your employee activities.

There are many workers who simply aren’t aware of their rights as a worker, and sometimes are forced to work straight through the day with no break. If they do get a chance to eat many do so as they are working on the clock, feeling that if they clock out their employers will look at them as lazy, insubordinate, or as not doing what’s right for the team. This is the scenario on many low-income jobs, such as ones in restaurants and retail. The simple fact that it is sometimes so hard to find decent employment is scary enough for many employees to allow their employer treat them in a way that is unfair, wrong, and against the law.

It’s not safe or healthy to work for extended periods of time without any rest, especially in environments such as hot kitchens or when working outdoors in the heat. By law, these workers (as well as those in more comfortable settings) are allowed at least a thirty-minute break if their work shift is more than six hours long. It doesn’t matter where you work, if you have been on the clock for at least five hours on those longer shifts you have the right to stop, get yourself something to eat, and relax a little before clocking back in.

If you feel that your rights as an employee have been violated, the attorneys at Makarem & Associates are always dedicated to helping you resolve any issues that you may have. Don’t hesitate to contact us at 310.312.0299, email us at [email protected] or submit an inquiry using the form below.