California Meal and Rest Break Laws - The Labor Code 512

Posted by Raoul Severo | Aug 26, 2020 | 0 Comments


Nothing beats the feeling of finally listening to the bell ring for lunch after never-ending, stressful, and boring hours of work. If truth be told, a lot of employees look forward to it more than anything else in their occupation. That is because as humans, sometimes we have step away from the real world and relax for a while. We're not computers or AI machines who are capable of executing tasks until the end of the world. With that in mind, California enacted the Labor Code. It discusses the ordinance that individuals in the managing positions must follow together with the prerogative of employees in California. This encompasses rest and meal break laws, which will be explored in this article.

Basically, the statute maintains that managers are obliged to give a minimum of half an hour's worth of meal break if the laborer works at least 5 hours daily. The laborer must utilize his/her snack break before finishing the 5-hour mark of their shift. Most importantly, these conditions shall be applied for every multiple of five. For instance, if the laborer clocked in 10 hours of labor, then he/she is qualified for two (2) meal breaks, both of which must be exactly or more than 30 minutes in duration. Meanwhile, California also has specific regulations for rest breaks. Someone who works a minimum of 4 hours should enjoy 10 minutes of relaxation. This is applicable to every multiple of four.  Now, it is essential to take note of a few things about this law:

  • The meal break is non-payable while the rest break is payable. 
  • The laborer has every right to decide if they want skip their second meal break or not. 
  • Both types of breaktimes must be logically placed in between an employee's shift, not at the start or at the end. 
  • Rest and meal breaks can only be availed by non-exempt employees. These individuals are basically people who qualify for minimum or hourly wage and overtime pay. Specifically, these are workers who are not eligible for directorial, white-collar, and/or administrative positions. Fast-food workers, carpenters, and plumbers are a few examples of such categories.

Punishments for Violating California Meal and Rest Break Laws

Administrators and supervisors of non-exempt employees technically cannot disturb or interrupt their employees' break time. Once the laborer clocks in for a time-out, they are not obliged to follow anyone's orders (unless of course if it's an emergency). If your director refuses to acknowledge your or your colleagues' well-deserved break or consistently interrupts your break time, then they will face these consequences:

  • The defendant will be mandated to reimburse one hour's wages for every workday wherein he/she denies the laborer of a meal break. 
  • The defendant will be mandated to reimburse one hour's wages for every workday wherein he/she denies the laborer of a rest break
  • The defendant will be mandated to reimburse 2 hours' wages for every workday wherein he/she denies the laborer of both a meal break and a rest break

It is important to report these situations to your local government as you are only given 3 years to dispute with your employer should your meal break and rest break privileges be rejected. Furthermore, your manager will not be answerable by law if you mutually accept to renounce your meal and rest time. Ultimately, the decision must be made by laborers. 

Legal Assistance

If you believe your right as an employee has been infringed under the Labor Code, you are encouraged to reach out to a lawyer promptly. This is not only to guarantee that no one else will suffer the same circumstances in the future, but it will also uphold your dignity as a blue-collar worker. By filing a formal complaint, you will help make this state a safer and more secure place to find a living.

Meanwhile, if you are at the opposite end of the rope and one of your laborers accuses you of violating their meal/rest break privileges, you have every right to defend yourself. If so, at the Office of Raoul Severo we will put you in contact with a defense attorney as he will help you navigate the law, determine your possible defenses, process the necessary requirements, and basically make this situation lighter for you.

Send us a message! We'll get back to you ASAP

About the Author


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment