Bartz Law Group

Employee Rights Advocates

Meal and Rest Breaks for Salaried and Exempt Workers in California

Breaks for Salaried and Exempt Workers in California

Ensuring employees have adequate rest and meal breaks is not only a legal requirement in California, but it also plays a crucial role in maintaining employee well-being, productivity, and safety. While non-exempt employees are entitled to both meal and rest breaks, exempt employees are only entitled to meal breaks. This is because exempt employees are generally considered to be self-managing and have greater control over their work schedules.

Meal and Rest Break Requirements as Per the Labor Laws

In California, employers have a legal obligation to provide their employees with meal breaks and rest breaks to ensure their well-being and productivity. While the specific requirements for these breaks vary depending on whether an employee is salaried or exempt, both groups are entitled to at least one uninterrupted meal break during their workday.

Non-Exempt Employees

Non-exempt employees are entitled to a 30-minute meal break if they work more than five hours in a workday. This break must be uninterrupted, meaning the employee is relieved of all work duties and permitted to leave the workplace. The meal break can be taken at any time during the workday, but it must be taken before the end of the fifth hour.

In addition to meal breaks, non-exempt employees are also entitled to rest breaks throughout their workday. These breaks should be at least 10 minutes long and should be provided every four hours of work. Rest breaks can be taken in shorter increments, such as two five-minute breaks, but they must be taken at the employee’s discretion and not during their meal break.

Exempt Employees

California lunch break law for exempt employees states that exempt employees are also entitled to a 30-minute meal break if they work more than five hours in a workday. However, unlike non-exempt employees, exempt employees are not required to take their meal break before the end of the fifth hour. They may choose to take their meal break at any time during their workday, or they may choose to waive their meal break altogether.

Exempt employees are not entitled to rest breaks under California law. However, they may still benefit from taking rest breaks to maintain their energy levels and productivity.

Being on Call or Working During Meal and Rest Breaks in California

In California, employees are entitled to meal and rest breaks to ensure their well-being and productivity. These breaks are considered part of their working hours and must be uninterrupted. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, particularly for employees who are on call or who work in certain industries.

Employees who are on call are typically required to be available to respond to work calls or emergencies outside of their regular work hours. However, they are still entitled to their meal and rest breaks during their on-call shifts.

According to the California Labor Code, on-call employees must be paid for all hours during which they are “on call” and “subject to the control of an employer.” This means that if an on-call employee is required to stay at their workplace or near their phone, they must be paid for that time, even if they are not actively working.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, on-call employees who are allowed to sleep or eat during their on-call shifts may not be entitled to full pay for those hours. Additionally, on-call employees who are not required to stay at their workplace or near their phone may not be entitled to pay for all on-call hours.

What to Do if You Are Denied a Rest or Meal Break

If you are an employee in California and you believe that your employer is denying you your legally mandated meal or rest breaks, there are a few things you can do:

  • Keep a record of the dates and times you were denied breaks, as well as any conversations you had with your employer about the issue.
  • Talk to your supervisor or manager about the situation. Explain that you are entitled to meal and rest breaks and that you have not been able to take them.
  • File a wage claim with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office (DLSE)
  • If you have been denied breaks for a long time or if you have suffered financial losses because of the missed breaks, you may want to consider consulting with an employment attorney.

In California, employees are entitled to meal and rest breaks to ensure their well-being, productivity, and safety. Employers are responsible for providing these breaks and for ensuring that they are uninterrupted. Failure to comply with California labor laws regarding meal and rest breaks can result in significant penalties for employers.