The blog post will explain the laws protecting employees in California when it comes to taking paid rest breaks and what they need to do in order to get one. Taking a break at work is not only beneficial for the mental and physical wellbeing of employees, but it is also a requirement by the State of California. But, what are the chances of getting a paid rest break in California? This blog post will explore this topic and provide an in-depth understanding of the laws that protect employees in California when it comes to taking paid rest breaks. As an employee, it can be difficult to know if you are entitled to a paid rest break and how to go about getting one. This is especially true when the law is complicated and ever-changing, like in California.
With frequent changes in legislation, staying on top of workplace regulations can be overwhelming. It is up to the employer to be aware of their obligations, and the employee to know their rights. That’s why it is essential to understand the regulations and legal frameworks surrounding paid rest breaks in California.
We’re first going to look at the basics of California rest break law, then we’re going to look at the common violations that employment lawyers like me see over and over, and finally we’re going to look at the damages available to employees who have been unlawfully denied their rest breaks. How much money are they owed if they only miss one break? Does that matter? How many breaks are warranted to get a lawyer or to call the labor board? We’re going to unpack all of that in this article.
What Are the Basics of the 10-Minute Breaks in California?
Some basics: Employees in California are entitled to 10-minute breaks. Hourly employees are people who are getting paid by the hour; those are non-exempt employees. If you’re an exempt salaried employee, then you’re generally not entitled to this statutory benefit because salaried employees are able to schedule their own breaks. However, it was hourly employees that we were primarily talking about here. Okay, so what are these ten-minute breaks? Are they paid around? Are they paid bricks? If you are on the clock for that ten-minute break, the employer is required to pay you at your normal rate of pay.
Okay, so when are these breaks supposed to happen? Can my employer schedule right at the beginning of the shift or at the end of the shift? We see that all the time the answer’s no. The law says that the break must happen primarily in the middle of every four-hour block of work, so if you were working for an eight-hour shift, your first break should roughly be around the two-hour mark, and then the second break should roughly be around the six-hour mark. Okay, this ten-minute break needs to be under two hours, which means the employer can’t make you do any work during that ten-minute break if they do a penalty and curse.
Finally, the employee can skip the break if they so choose. However, it’s a very fine line between the employee voluntarily choosing to skip the break and their employer politely asking them to skip the break. Let’s unpack that a little bit more. If you have a shift less than three and a half hours, you’re not entitled to a break; if you have a shift between three and a half and six hours, you’re entitled to one break; if you have a shift between six hours and ten hours, you’re entitled to two breaks; and between 10 and 14 hours, you’re entitled to three breaks.
Unwritten Rule and Timekeeping System
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s look at some common examples. this happens all the time where an employer says oh look our handbook says that you’re entitled to a 10-minute break but once the employee starts at that company they find out that it’s an unwritten rule and nobody’s allowed to take a 10-minute break otherwise he’ll be fired if they complain about it they’ll get fired those unwritten rules are definitely against the law in the state of California very common for employers to try to schedule that 10-minute rest break right at the very beginning credit for the end of the shift that’s that’s a violation of law when the employer asks the employee to record down on their timesheets that they took a 10-minute break when they in fact did not or even worse when the timekeeping system itself or HR record down that the employee took a 10-minute rest break when they in fact did not also very common especially among less sophisticated employers when the company just literally has an official policy
and it’s great when they have a written policy that says nobody’s allowed to take a 10-minute rest break very simple to prove those cases when the employer just takes a policy stance it’s against the law also very common when an employer schedules employees in a way that it’s impossible for them to take break other whether they schedule way too much work for that employee and they insist that they get it done or that they schedule them in some type of manner in which it makes it impossible for them to take a rest break very common finally very common violation is when an employee simply asked to clock out for that ten minutes so they don’t get paid for that 10-minute break that’s a violation of law so okay so what so what if you don’t get a break or you don’t get a bunch of breaks or over the course of your entire employment you’ve never gotten a break who cares well California employment law is very powerful it says that if an employee skips a break or is forced to skip a 10-minute break then the employer is supposed to compensate that employee at the regular rate of pay for one hour so if you’re making $30 an hour and your boss asks you to skip your rest break the employer is supposed to pay you as a penalty $30 and that can add up over time so that’s why we’re going to look at the remedies right now.
An Example of Remedies for Employees with Unexpected Benefits
Typically, when talking about remedies, it helps to put them in the context of an example, so let’s play this out. Imagine you’re a full-time employee getting paid 30 bucks an hour, and you’ve been working at this employer for three years, but every single day your boss asks you to skip one of your 10-minute respects. So as you know, every single day you’re asked to skip a wofully earned ten-minute break, and the employer owes you one hour of premium pay at your regular rate of pay. That’s thirty dollars now. If you want to figure out how much you’re old and week, just multiply it by five, that’s 150 dollars. If you want to multiply that up, find out how much you’re owed in the year multiplied by 52 weeks, that’s seven thousand eight hundred dollars. If you multiply that by three years, that’s twenty-three thousand four hundred dollars.
A Simple Solution for the Employee’s Mop
So okay, if the employer owes you that money, how do you go about collecting it? How do you get that mop, not money? Well, there are three ways: one, you can ask the employer nicer Go to HR, go to the CEO, and say, “Hey, you guys broke the law. Which one did you break?” Here’s how much you owe me. Rarely do I find that to be affected.
The second option is to contact the labor board. The California Labor Board is really affected by pursuing claims for employees, especially the ones that are small and simple. If it’s just a rest break violation and the person’s owed a thousand dollars or fifteen hundred dollars, go to the labor board. Don’t contact forward, but if and in most cases, this is the scenario. If you’re owed a sizable chunk of money and there’s other issues like unpaid overtime meal break violations, maybe there’s a wrongful termination or a harassment claim as well, definitely contact a private employment lawyer. Generally, with employment lawyers like myself, the consultation is free, and generally, with employment lawyers like myself, we work on a contingency fee, which means we don’t get paid anything unless we successfully recover money for the employee. So I hope you found this video helpful. Take care.