California employees are entitled to one 30-minute meal period if they work 5 hours or more in one day. However, the employee and the employer can agree to waive the meal period if the employee works no more than 6 hours in one day. Employees who work more than 6 hours in one day may not waive their meal breaks. The 30 minute meal break must be a full 30 minutes -- not 29 minutes -- and must be completely free from duty. These 30 minutes must be “net.” They cannot include time spent walking to a time clock; the 30 minutes must be actual break time. The meal period should be given in the middle of the work day. The meal period is unpaid.
Employees are entitled to one 10-minute rest period for every 4-hour period of work performed, or major fraction of the hour. If an employee works 3-1/2 hours per day, there is no rest period requirement. The rest period must be 10 full minutes -- not 9 -- and must be completely free from duty in most cases. These 10 minutes must be “net.” The rest periods should be given in the middle of each 4-hour block of time. The rest periods are paid.
Example A: The employee works an 8 hour shift from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There should be one 10-minute rest break at approximately 10:00 a.m. The meal break should be from approximately 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. There should be a second 10-minute rest break at approximately 2:30 p.m.
Example B: The employee works a 5 hour shift from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. There should be one 10-minute rest break at approximately 2:30 p.m.
Example C: The employee works a 6 hour shift from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The employee and employer have agreed to waive the meal break. There should be one 10-minute rest break at approximately 3:00 p.m.
Example D: The employee works a 6 hour shift from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The employee and employer have NOT agreed to waive the meal break. There should be one 30-minute meal break from approximately 2:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.
The employer must make these breaks available to employees and cannot interfere with the employees’ freedom to take the breaks or discourage employees from taking breaks. However, the employer does not have to make sure employees actually take the breaks.
If the employer has actually PREVENTED or INTERFERED WITH the employees' ability to take breaks, the employer may have to pay a penalty of one additional hour's pay for every day in which a meal break is not allowed, and one additional hour's pay for every day in which one or both rest breaks are not allowed.
The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is a sub-agency within the California Department of Industrial Relations. http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/. Some people refer to the DLSE as the Labor Commissioner. The DLSE enforces California's wage and hour laws, including those pertaining to overtime, rest and meal breaks, and more. The link for information on filing a wage claim is here: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/howtofilewageclaim.htm.
twitter.com/MikaSpencer *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***
Calif. employers are legally required to provide at least a 30 minute unpaid meal break and at least one 10 minute break to employees who work 6 hours as you do. The employee is not "legally" required to take those breaks/meal period, but you employer can fire you for any lawful reason, including not taking the breaks/meal period. Your boss is wise in that he/she does not want to be sued for not providing meal/break periods pursuant to the law.