Under California law, non-exempt employees are entitled to meal and rest breaks: a 30-minute meal break if an employee works more than 5 hours in a workday and 10 minute breaks for every 4 hours employees work. When employers do not comply with their obligations to provide meal and rest breaks, they are required to pay employees one extra hour of regular pay for each day on which a break violation occurred.
The California Supreme Court has held that to comply with meal period requirements, employers have an affirmative obligation to provide meal periods. (Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2012) 53 C4th 1004. Five requirements must be met to comply. Employers must: (1) relieve employees of all duty; (2) relinquish control over employees’ activities; (3) permit employees a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30-minute break; (4) not impede or discourage employees from taking uninterrupted 30-minute breaks free of all work duties; and (5) commence the meal period any time prior to the expiration of 5 hours of work for the first meal period and 10 hours of work for the second meal period. (53 C4th at 1040, 1049.)
Employers still too often pressure employees to skip meal and rest breaks or do not provide any breaks at all. If you are an employee who has not been provided all breaks, please contact Lebe Law for a free consultation.