Employment Law and Breaks By Gregory Thyberg on January 11, 2019

Employment law bookEmployees should always know their rights while on the job. This means knowing that they cannot be discriminated against, and that they are due a certain amount of time to take a break each workday. Our Sacramento, CA employment law attorneys can help with wage and break violations, holding employers accountable for overworking and/or underpaying their employees. ThybergLaw is on your side.

Since many people are not aware of their legal rights regarding breaks on the job, we want to cover some basics in terms of federal and state laws. Attorney Gregory A. Thyberg can discuss rest break and meal break violations in more detail with your during a legal consultation.

Federal Laws on Breaks

Federal law requires employers to pay their employees for the hours that they have worked. This includes time that could be considered a “break” under certain circumstances.

Short breaks that last between 5 to 20 minutes are paid and considered part of a normal workday. Additionally, if an employee works through their lunch, they are required to be paid for the work they are doing.

As for state laws on meals and breaks, California is one of the few states in the country that requires employers to provide meal breaks as well as paid rest breaks. Let’s consider what each of these means below.

California Laws on Meal Breaks

California state law requires employers to offer their employees a 30-minute meal break for every five hours of work. These 30-minute meal breaks are unpaid. If an employee’s workday is 6 hours or less, they can waive their unpaid meal break.

For workdays that are 10 hours long, employees are entitled to two separate 30-minute meal breaks. Both meal breaks would be unpaid. If an employee’s workday is no longer than 12 hours, the employee can waive their right to the second unpaid meal break, but they must take the first meal break. Employees are not allowed to waive both meals.

What If an Employee Cannot Take Their Meal?

If the nature of an employee’s job prevents them from taking an unpaid meal break, employers can provide the employee with a paid, on-duty meal period. The employee would have to agree to this on-duty meal break in writing.

California Laws on Rest Breaks

Not all breaks are meal breaks. For every 4 hours of work, employees are entitled to a 10-minute rest break. These rest breaks are paid and part of the workday. An employee can waive their 10-minute rest break if their workday does not exceed 3.5 hours.

So as an example, someone working an 8-hour shift, they would be entitled to two paid 10-minute rest breaks as well as one unpaid 30-minute meal break.

What You Can Do If You Aren’t Receiving Your Breaks

If you have not been receiving your mandatory meals or rests at your job, it’s important that you file a formal complaint with California’s Department of Labor Relations. You should also consider speaking with an attorney to see if it’s worth seeking a lawsuit against your employer.

Contact Our Team of Employment Law Attorneys

For more information on your legal rights and options following a violation of break and meal statutes, be sure to contact our team of employment and labor law attorneys. The team at ThybergLaw is here to help. You can reach us by phone at (916) 204-9173.

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Thyberg Law

Since 1981, Gregory A. Thyberg has been providing legal services to clients throughout Sacramento. With a focus on employment law, he can help you find a solution when facing discrimination, harassment, or other workplace injustices. Mr. Thyberg is affiliated with organizations like the:

  • California Bar Association
  • San Francisco Trial Lawyer’s Association

If you're experiencing unlawful discrimination in the workplace, request a consultation with Mr. Thyberg or call (916) 204-9173.

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