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Automobile Lemon Law

Meal & Rest


What meal break am I allowed to get under the law?  

Under California’s labor law, employers are required to provide their employees with a meal period that is at a minimum 30 minutes when the employee works more than 5 consecutive hours. The break must occur no later than the end of the employee’s 5th work hour. The meal period does not have to be paid. However, if the employer does not provide a proper meal period, it must be paid at the employees regular working rate.

In order to comply with California law, the employer must generally meet the following requirements when providing the meal period:

  • The employer must relieve the employee of all her duties

  • The employer permit the employee to be free from employer’s control, including leaving work

  • The employer must allow the employee a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted, 30 minute break

  • The employer must not discourage the employee from taking the break

In other words, the employer does not have to force you to take your break and doesn’t have to police you, rather the employer must give you the opportunity to take a break. And the employer must relieve you of all your work duties making you free to do what you want with your time. California law only permits employers to provide an “on duty” meal period when the nature of the work prevents the employee from being relieved of all duty and when by written agreement between the employer and employee an on-the-job meal period is agreed to. These breaks must also be paid.  


The employer must comply with all of the above requirements in order for a meal period to be proper. However, it is very common for employers to not properly comply with all of these requirements. For example: your employer may provide you with a 30 minute meal period, but your boss may ask you if you can answer the phone if it rings because one of the other employees is out sick. If this occurs, you are entitled to be paid for your meal period because you are still on duty.


Another example may be a situation where your employer creates a very hectic and intense work environment which makes it difficult for you to take your meal period because they say work has to be done. The employer may say later on that you had an opportunity to take your break and were free to do so, but you chose to keep working. But it can be argued that really they did not give you a reasonable opportunity to take a break because of the atmosphere they created. So such a scenario may also be violative of the law, entitling you compensation.


These are just a couple of ways where an employer may be violating California Labor Law with respect to meal periods but there are many more. If you think you may have not been provided with a proper meal break, contact us today for a free consultation. We'll answer your questiosn and will explain your rights. 

What rest break am I entitled to get under the law?

All non-exempt employees must be provided with a 10 minute paid rest period for every four (4) hours worked or major fraction thereof. Anything over two hours is considered by the courts to be a "major fraction" of four.

As a general rule, and insofar as practicable, the rest break must be in the middle of each four-hour work period. In an eight hour day, one rest break normally falls on either side of the meal break. Though this is the general rule, there is no absolute obligation to permit a rest period before a meal period.

Your employer must treat the rest periods as hours work, entitling you to pay. Similar to meal periods, during a rest period an employer must relieve the employee of all duties and relinquish any control over how the employee spends his break time. There are certain exceptions to this rule, for example ambulance drivers. But the exceptions are very limited.   


Insofar as is practicable, the rest period should be in the middle of the work period. A rest period is not required for employees whose total daily work time is less than three and a half (3 1/2) hours.

Missed rest periods are very common. Many employees are not aware they are even entitled to them, or they are not aware they are entitled to two breakers per 8 hour shift. If you think you may have not been provided with a proper meal break, contact us today for a free consultation. We'll answer your questiosn and will explain your rights. 


What are my rights if my employer did not give me my meal or rest breaks?

The consequences for employers who don’t provide meal or rest periods can be very harsh and severe fines may be levied against the employer. For each day that your employer fails to provide a meal period, you are entitled to one additional hour of pay at your regular rate. If your employer fails to provide either of the required rest periods, you also are entitled to one additional hour of pay at your regular rate. This extra pay must be included in your next paycheck. It is important to note, if you happen to miss both a meal period and a rest period in one day, you are entitled to two extra hours of pay, not one, since there are two violations.


If you feel that your employer has not provided you with appropriate meal or rest periods or you have any questions, please contact us. We’ll speak to you free of charge, will evaluate your case, and will advise you of your rights. 


For additional information on California’s meal are rest period requirements, you can also reference the California Labor Code 512, or the California Department of Industrial Relations.

Thank you for submitting your inquiry. A firm member will contact you to follow up shortly after we review your information to see if we can assist you. If you do not receive a response within 48 hours, please call our firm to ensure your message was received. 

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