Rest Meal Breaks Explained
Rest and meal breaks are an integral part of each business day. Most employees look forward to them, and most employers worry about violating California’s strict laws. This article will be covering California labor law, but the laws will vary for each state. Whether you are an employee or an employer, you should familiarize yourself with them immediately. You may be owed money for break infractions, or you may be committing infractions you are unaware of. Break violations can be costly and devastating to a company, keep yourself out of trouble by simply reading this article.
Meal breaks, and rest breaks only apply to an employee who is non-exempt. A non-exempt employee is one who is not exempt of the requirements set by the California Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). If you are an exempt employee, you are not required to be given any kind of rest or meal break. If you are a non-exempt employee, and you work more than 5 hours in one day, you are required to have a 30-minute meal break. If you work more than 10 hours in one day, you are awarded a second 30-minute meal break. The employee is not to be paid for the time they are on a meal break, and the break does not have to take place on company grounds. If this requirement is not being met, the employee is owed one hour of regular pay for every day they did not receive a meal break.
Determining when rest breaks should be given is a little more complicated. A non-exempt employee should be given one 10-minute break after 3.5 hours of work. Another 10-minute rest break should be given after 6 hours of work, and another after 10 hours. Unlike a meal break, a rest break should be paid for, and it is up to the discretion of the employer if the employee is allowed to leave the premises at this time. No matter where the rest break takes place, the employee is not to be interrupted for any work purposes. Employees are still owed one hour of regular pay for every missed rest break.
Fortunately, there are flexible options for both employees and employers. Employees do not have to take their rest breaks as long as it is by their own free choice. An employer cannot force an employee to skip their rest break, but the employee is free to decline it if they choose. Employees can also choose to skip their meal break, if they do not work longer than 6 hours in one day. There is even an option for a paid meal break that takes place while work is being done. There are still other rules that govern breaks, such as not being allowed to combine all of the breaks into one long consecutive break.
You are given three years to file for any rest break violations. If you are an employer looking to protect yourself from rest break violations, or you are an employee who believes they are owed money, do not hesitate to contact attorney Christian J. Albut for a free consultation. Our experience with labor laws presents you the best representation available.