What Are the California Labor Laws for Breaks and Lunches?


Quick Answer

According to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement of the Department of Industrial Relations of California, employers are required to provide a meal break of not less than thirty minutes for every five hours worked. However, that requirement is waived in situations where employees work for no more than six hours a day.

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What Are the California Labor Laws for Breaks and Lunches?
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Full Answer

The requirement for second meal break, expected where employees work for ten hours or more a day, can be waived if the work period does not exceed 12 hours a day, notes the DLSE. However, that waiver is only legal if it is the result of mutual consent between employers and employees and only if the first break was not waived. The second break must be called no later than six hours from the end of the first break. Because employees in the motion picture industry generally work for no more than six hours a day, they are exempted from this rule.

Where employees cannot be relieved of all duties during their breaks, as is the case with security guards and employees working alone in convenience stores, employers should consider breaks as hours worked. California labor laws require such situations to be the subject of written agreements to avert disputes. Employees should be paid the equivalent of one hour's pay for every day employers fail to call for breaks. However, according to the California Chamber of Commerce, employers are under no obligation to ensure that their employees actually take breaks.

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