California Meal Break & Rest Break Law (2024) – Quick Calculator + Charts

This meal break and rest break calculator will tell you how many meal and/or rest breaks you are entitled to under California labor law. Just enter your shift start and shift end times and the calculator will explain your break rights. IMPORTANT: If you took unpaid meal breaks during your shift, say 30 minutes in total, MAKE SURE TO ENTER “30” IN THE MEAL BREAK INPUT WINDOW. The law considers only time worked on the clock. Meal breaks are usually taken off the clock and must not be included in the calculation.


Start of Your Shift (e.g., "9:00 am"):

End of Your Shift (e.g., "5:00 pm"):

Total meal breaks taken (in minutes) (e.g., "30"):

(The page will refresh after you press "calculate". Scroll down to see results in blue text.)
california meal break law, california rest break law


Under California meal break law (which is much more generous to employees than federal labor law), if you are a non-exempt worker, you are entitled to a 30-minute uninterrupted, duty-free meal break if you work more than 5 hours in a workday.  You are also entitled to a 10-minute uninterrupted, duty-free rest breaks for every 4 hours you work (or “major fraction” thereof). If your boss doesn’t comply with break law requirements, they are required to pay you one extra hour of regular pay for each day on which a meal break violation occurred, and another extra hour of regular pay for each day on which a rest break violation occurred.

California Rest Break Law Chart

Hours on the ClockRest Breaks
0 – 3:29 hrs0
3:30 – 6 hrs1
6:01 – 10 hrs2
10:01 – 14 hrs3
14:01 – 18 hrs4
18:01 – 22 hrs5

California Rest Break Requirements

  • Your boss must give you a rest break of at least 10 consecutive minutes that are uninterrupted.
  • Rest breaks must be paid.
  • If you work at least 3.5 hours in a day, you are entitled to one rest break. If you work over 6 hours, you are entitled to a second rest break. If you work over 10 hours, you are entitled to a third rest break.
  • Rest breaks must to the extent possible be in the middle of each work period. If you work 8 hours or so, you should have a separate rest break both before and after your meal break.
  • Your boss may not require you to remain on work premises during your rest breaks.
  • You cannot be required to work during any required rest breaks. [Cal. Lab. C. 226.7]. BUT, you are free to skip your rest breaks provided your boss isn’t encouraging or forcing you to.

California Meal Break Law Chart

Hours on the ClockMeal Breaks
0 – 5 hrs0
5:01 – 10 hrs1
10:01 – 15 hrs2
15:01 – 20 hrs3
20:01 –4

California Meal Break Law Requirements

  • If you work over 5 hours in a day, you are entitled to a meal break of at least 30 minutes that must start before the end of the fifth hour of your shift. BUT, you can agree with your boss to waive this meal period provided you do not work more than 6 hours in the workday. You can also agree with your boss to an on-duty meal break which counts as time worked and is paid.
  • If you work over 10 hours in a day, you are entitled to a second meal break of at least 30 minutes that must start before the end of the tenth hour of your shift. You can agree with your boss to waive the second meal break if you do not work more than 12 hours and you did not waive your first meal break.
  • You must be allowed to take your meal break off work premises and spend your break how you wish, since it is off the clock.
  • You cannot be required to work during any required meal break. [Cal. Lab. C. 512].
  • As of 2012, your boss has an affirmative obligation to ensure that breaks are made available to you but the actual taking of meal breaks is left to the employee. In other words, you are responsible for “breaking” yourself.

Note, rest breaks and meal breaks are supposed to be separate, they should not be combined. Your boss cannot give you a single 1-hour break and say that that counts as all of your meal breaks and rest breaks.

Keep in mind, there are many exceptions to the above for certain industries, such as the construction, healthcare, group home, motion picture, manufacturing, and baking industries.

Can I Skip or Waive My Breaks?

Employers are required by law to make timely meal and rest breaks available to you, but they aren’t required to make you take them. That is up to you as the employee. If you decide to voluntarily skip or waive your meal or rest break, or to take them late, with no pressure or encouragement from the employer, then that is legally permitted. BUT remember, employers have the right under California labor laws to set your work schedule, including your break schedule. While not required to do it, employers have the right to order employees to go on their meal and rest breaks. If the employee doesn’t comply, the employer has the right to discipline or terminate the employee for insubordination. So it is always a good idea to discuss with your employer beforehand your intention to skip or waive any meal or rest breaks, or to take them late.

Can I Sue My Employer for Violating California Meal Break and Rest Break Law?

Yes you can, and you should. If your employer is denying you meal breaks and rest breaks, you would be entitled to receive a penalty of 1 hour wages per day you were denied any rest breaks, and an additional penalty of 1 hour wages per day you were denied any meal breaks (for a maximum penalty of up to 2 hours wages per day). We can help you file a California labor board complaint. Give us a call at (213) 992-3299. Note, your claims are subject to strict filing deadlines. For meal and rest break violations, the filing deadline is usually considered to be 3 years thanks to a recent California Supreme Court decision. [Murphy v Kenneth Cole Productions, 40 Cal.4th 1094 (2007)], but in certain cases, a 1 year filing deadline could apply.

I Am an Exempt Salaried Worker, Can I Still Sue My Employer?

The correct answer is “it depends”. There are many kinds of exemptions under California labor laws. If you are a supervisor, you may fall under the supervisor exemption, otherwise known as the executive exemption. But that exemption has many requirements which your employer may have blown. Also, other kinds of exempt employees are still entitled to meal break and rest break rights. For instance, truck drivers are often considered exempt and are not entitled to California meal and rest breaks (although they must get breaks after 8 hours under federal law). Another example are “inside salespeople” who sell products or services while physically stationed at the employer’s office. While normally considered “exempt”, they are still entitled to meal breaks and rest breaks. Again, consult a lawyer to see if your situation qualifies for breaks.

Call (213) 992-3299 and Get Your Labor Board Complaint Started Now

Feel free to give us a call at (213) 992-3299 if you want to discuss filing a labor board complaint. We have successfully obtained awards for our clients in over 97% of our trials and hearings — one of the best trial records in the State of California. Let us put our decades of legal experience to work for you.

Photo courtesy of cjmellows


  1. Allen James on May 11, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    I OFTEN took a lunch later than 5 hours into a 9 hour day. Sometimes it was by choice, but more often it was because I was alone OR customer service levels warranted. I was never told I had to take a lunch by a certain time just that I had to. Do I have a case?

  2. Maria on May 11, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Do employers have the right to use a timer during your break? There is 3 shifts and they only do it on 1 shift.

    • Briana on May 11, 2019 at 6:17 pm

      I want to know the answer to the same question!

    • Sandy on April 4, 2021 at 8:39 am

      My husband works as a Butcher and he only takes two 15 minute break and his lunch in a ten hour shift ..
      Is it true that he has to take a break every two hours ?since he works standing and with a moving band table

      • Joshua Petrie on April 8, 2021 at 10:52 am

        Sounds right to me. If it is 10 hours of work the schedule might look like this:

        In: 6am
        Break: 8am (10 minutes paid, or more if by company policy)
        Out: 11am (30 minutes unpaid, or more if by company policy)
        In: 11:30am
        Break: 1:30pm (paid break, as above)
        Out: 4:30 pm

    • Cysl on April 2, 2022 at 8:07 pm

      My employer makes us clock in & wait 2 minutes, then clock out for our 30min (unpaid) work until the sixth hour & take one 10min break.
      Is that even legal ?

  3. JM on May 10, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    My employer doesn’t allow us to take our 10 mins breaks (paid) anywhere else but inside our office but it takes us a couple of mins to walk to get to our office

    My manager tells us that our break begins as soon as we start walking over. We work in a large Apartment community so it can take a little while to get to our office, it can sometimes take 5 mins

    Shouldn’t it be when we get to our designated break area?

    Thanks you

    • Joshua Petrie on April 8, 2021 at 10:55 am

      Yes. “The rest period is defined as a ‘net’ ten minutes, which means that the rest period begins when the employee reaches an area away from the work area that is appropriate for rest.”

      If they’re being like that about that, how are they on restroom breaks? See FAQ #8: “When I need to use the toilet facilities during my work period does that count as my ten minute rest break?” (spoiler alert: the answer is no)

      • Joy on August 13, 2022 at 5:39 am

        I work at Amazon and they say our breaks are from our last scan of the product we were packing to the next scan when we return to our packing stations. Yet, it takes five minutes to walk outside and about three minutes to the nearest small break room. When I told my boss that gives me literally only 5-7 minutes depending on the crown also as some ppl walk aimlessly and I am trying to not run them over for my time lol. Five minutes to sit down and cool and recover my body from the hard labor. Usually, I am sweating so so badly that I need the full amount of break time to work effectively. When I asked my manager about this policy and I questioned the legality of it, she said I didn’t HAVE to go outside and that they provide a back break room for all 300 employees to use at once. And have two restrooms there that have two toilets each for everyone to use on the really 5-7 minutes we have. She also said really we should only get two ten minute breaks only and Amazon was nice and had e us five extra minutes each break. Our schedule is 6:30pm first break 9:15 Lunch 11:15-11:45pm last break is 2:45am and we go home at 5am.
        I am an introvert and I want to be out of the environment on my breaks and even if your a smoker it’s a five minute walk outside then around the building is longer, so thankfully I don’t smoke but I sit in my car with the AC full blast I am sweating so badly and I just breathe and enjoy the quiet as I look at the moon. I work ten hours at Amazon and at our orientation they tricked every employee to sign that we give up our second l lunch break. They stated if we didn’t sign it then we would have to take our lunch from 5am to 5:30 instead of go home at 5am. But we work 6:30-5am. According to this calculator, my second thirty minute lunch would have to be before 4:30 and we would still be off at 5am. Right? And we definitely were never told or given an option for a third rest break ever ! I have worked for over twenty years so their policies made no sense to me. Either does the scan to scan in our workstation as our timer seem right to me.

        I’ve been there a month so I am just learning and did you know, if you are at your station and say I need to restock my tape, fix something that isn’t working properly or the conveyor belt is full and down so I can’t continue, they come up to you and ask you what you were doing in the 4 minutes. I started having to keep documenting everything I did and have done throughout the night but I tried putting it into my phone by date and time since they live to wait three weeks prior to asking you what you did that night but I was told if I use my phone at all in our packing areas I can be automatically fired. But I can’t keep carrying around mountains of papers either for any day they may come to me and say what were you doing back on February 12 at 2:13am. Anyways,
        I was told if I had medical issues to just inform them and it would be okay. But I know it’s not really, so when I got a bladder infection, I took the first night off because I was frequently feeling I had to urinate and in pain but producing little to nothing. When I returned the next day, I did inform my manager and she said okay but I used the restroom ONCE after my first and only lunch break which is at 11:15pm and I am off at 5am, so I went most the night without ever using the restroom and around 4am I was asked what I did at 2:15am. So imagine, I started work at 6:30pm!!!! And I left once to pee and as much as I sweat, I should be drinking but after a month there I know it just takes me from producing and I will be written up for my time not producing work consistently. So I limit my water intake and because if I leave to buy a water or use the water dispenser they JUST SHOWED me yesterday on 8-12 that we had, I am told something.
        Amazon is literal slave labor. To time you for ANY time you aren’t producing is crazy. So I returned from our second 10 minute and final break last night and scan to scan, that’s my break time but I return, and I have nothing left in my tote cage to scan. So I have to return the old empty tote to the designated area first. And connect it to any other empty in the area. Then I have to grab another tote and sometimes, they can be quite far from your personal work station. So I go to grab another fully loaded tote and because I’m small in stature and size and I have ataxia and scoliosis doing this work, which makes one side of your body do more work than the other causing exhaustion and probably why I sweat more than others, I slowly roll it to my station and then try to get it to perfectly be in the area box they have in each station takes some work on my part. Then I have to Put the brake on. Open the tote and scan the tote first before I can scan a product from that tote as my signal I have officially returned from my break, so according to Amazon, I am considered late returning from my break.
        On 8/3/2022 my manager had a first conversation about my time that wasn’t productive and explained how they work their system. She said we were just discussing it, as I had never been informed prior and we were addressing barriers only. Well, then yesterday on 8/11, she comes and had me sign and acknowledge a write up called “seek to understand. “When I asked her what is this? She just said it’s a seek to understand, (which isn’t explaining diddly squat to me, really)and that it is just covering what we spoke about. If you want to write comments you can, she says, which I did and so I cover the break issue in it and she them says this has nothing to do with your breaks at all but never really explained that this was any small period of time I took thru the evening called time off task, or TOT. So they measure thru the shift any time you “are away from your workstation.” However, some of that time the conveyor belt is stopped and full so we can’t produce, tape machines break, dunage is needing refilling, you are retrieving or returning a tote, or I keep my station cleaned and I like to start out with everything I need. Sometimes I’m restocking my own boxes, refilling tape, setting up my work station to flow better or just waiting for the next batch of totes to come in or taking to one of the four people that manage me nightly or I did actually have to pee, buy a water, grab something from my purse in the car. So I did write something in comments but I was expressly responding about what she wrote in it and how she changed the verbiage to imply I made the statement she did actually and that I also had not known about the other time clocks nearby or this policy. But had she been more plain in explaining what this seek to understand really was about and that is was a write up, I would have been far more detailed. She said it was only documenting our conversation we had on 8/3 and that night WAS only a conversation. After asking my coworkers about this policy they all seem okay with and how it works, I gather more information and am told many different things, so I asked her plainly this time, later on in the shift, is it a write up or is it a verbal warning? She says, it’s both a verbal and a written because of our prior conversation. I asked her what prior conversation? She said well, I didn’t document it. And I said so one would infer, if you didn’t document it and I don’t have any recollection of it and I’ve only been here a month, it didn’t happen. Plus she had just returned from a two week vacation she left for shortly after I was hired and had returned literally the day before the 8/3 conversation. According to other coworkers, I am to receive three verbals before a write up and I wasn’t even given that. So first she says, it a verbal on 8-3 then on 8-12 changes her mind completely and gives me my first written write up and says we had a prior conversation that no one has knowledge or documentation of and she was gone two weeks so I doubt I would forget as I only have had three TOTAL conversations with her, including the two I am sharing here.
        Their TOT policy is TIme off Task and that even includes being late returning from breaks and lunch, which again, is from last scan to next scan not your time clock entry or real time in the designated areas. I asked her, so I’m on my break once they holler break at us, even if I haven’t scanned in a few minutes, but I cannot use my phone without a write up till I am in a designated area or outside, how is it a break? And if I hadn’t scanned something before I left, technically whatever minutes I took prior or need when I return, count as me violating my 15 minute break period, How is that my break? I also said,

        There is nowhere to sit, in our packing area, unless I sit on my packing table as my break but I would be fired for even looking at my phone while staying there for break. So to rest in a chair or get fresh air and see outside for any part of my ten hours that I am stuck there, it requires a five minute walk each way and if I chose to stay indoors in the back break room it’s still about 3 minutes of your time and for 300 employees it’s very small and loud and too crowded to pee or purchase a drink at the machines in time, is not really sufficiently a break period and Again I cannot use my phone at any point not even to view, unless I choose these areas, so how am I on a break?? Her reply is consistently, that I don’t have to go outside on my break and that Amazon is kind enough to alott us 15 minutes twice an evening, instead of just two ten minute breaks. Yet this is standard on any 8 hour jobs I’ve had, along with the same 30 minute only lunch break.
        Amazon makes it so you HAVE to constantly produce but their tape machines do break, the conveyor does stop and nothing is ever so cut and dry. So, if I need to be outside for my own sanity, as introverts gain energy being alone, even if it’s only for 10 minutes, or just to hear the phone call as the break room is small and loud, I am unable to do that while on my “technical break” because of the seven to ten minutes it takes by the time we get anywhere that is a designated area and back. And my lunch is still scan to scan, however I can’t clock in even a minute before my 30 minute lunch is over to get back to my packing area sooner, as it violates the labor law and they REQUIRE it be a mandatory thirty minutes so it looks like they are legal beagles, yet if they do not like you, this TOT is a good way to have you written up consistently and have a valid claim for you not to meet unemployment. If you are liked, I am sure this TOT during the mandatory 30 minute clock off lunch break and time to return to scan is basically ignored. But if you go out to eat instead pack a lunch or don’t prefer to buy their food, again that’s your choice, to walk to those time clocks in the way to the exit or to your car to go eat somewhere, that walk is taking time off your one thirty minute lunch break and you technically will always be late from scan to scan if you don’t stay nearby. Again, Amazon plays this like well you are free to go and do that it’s your break but this is how we measure your time.

        So most coworkers have learned to game the system. I was working hard and just doing what had to be done at first. They go slower closer to breaks and keep stuff in their totes and never try to complete it prior to a break. They will keep something on their packing table TO quickly scan on their return and make sure they don’t have to find something or are in a phase in the night that keeps them from a scan like I was yesterday when I had an empty tote when they yelled break and I returned to nothing to scan and had to return the tote first and then grab another, which is all a process. So they make sure to work really slow. But Amazon also has a rate standard you HAVE to hit if 70 packages scanned and packed in one hour time. My rate was 153 as a new person using half my body so no wonder I was exhausted when I finally sat down for the first time in my lunch with the AC blasting in my car! But now I see why no one puts in much effort here. The morale is killed by the policy and micromanagement of Amazon. And so it has taught me not to do extra or do my best but to only do the bare minimum. My first two weeks I already was seen by a manager for the pickers who happened to be helping in packing, she said, I see you have a good work ethic. You brought that here on your own and it shows. I do notice I completed tonight three totes in the time some finish one or not even finish. But to survive this job you have to game the system like the rest do and maybe get used to not seeing the outside for an entire ten hours and never need a bathroom break or any water till you’re someone they like and allow to have some TOT without any questions. But I’ve seen long term employees also be asked about TOT and others who documented it on their phones. I tried to document it on my phone and almost was written up for that because I wanted to be sure I did the exact time I was returning a tote and why I was late from that last break. I can’t even use my phone to document but if they ask me 3 weeks from now where I was and it’s on a piece of paper somewhere, I won’t have that handy.

        Is any of this legal??!

  4. Jessy on May 8, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    Hi there. I asked my employer if i can take a late lunch due to an important appointment with my childcare provider. Normal hours are 9-6 and i asked if i can take my lunch at 3:30-4:30 as a one time exception. They denied since i am due to take my meal break before the 5th hour and said i would need to take an unpaid time off. I asked again if i can take my meal break in increments since my appointment would not take long. 30 mins before the 5th hour and 30 mins at the time of appointment. They denied and said company policy is to take lunch at exact hours for each employee. Is there a law pertaining to this situation??

    • Teodoro Martinez jr on May 5, 2021 at 9:39 am

      so I work more than 12hrs and they making us take lunch but the 10th hr had already pass can they make me still take a lunch and do I clock out or does it have to be paid .

  5. Ramon G. on May 8, 2019 at 3:36 am

    I have a situation. I work the graveyard shift by myself over watching 50+ people at a homeless shelter. Starting at 12am-8:30am, I have a support person that comes in at 5:30am-8:30am. Usually throughout the week, they do not come in at all Mon-Thur. I am left alone throughout the entire shift working. I am not able to leave the building. I can’t take a lunch or break w/out being interrupted. This has been going on for 6+ months. is this Legal? I work for a non profit, county funded organization.

  6. Travis Jacobson on May 7, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    Hi there,
    I work at a high end restaurant in San Francisco that is happy to give us a 30 minute unpaid break…at the start of our shift so its as if were not breaking from any work. We get to work, start our break, end our break and work to end of our shift.

    • Alexa on May 25, 2019 at 1:32 am

      I work in a restaurant in the LA area and this is the first places I worked where we don’t take any meal breaks. I open at 6:30am and no rest or meal breaks for the whole shift and Even though it says I’m scheduled until 2:30 (place closes at 3) I end up staying until about 3:30 or 4pm everyday since it’s only two people. In a period of two weeks I had worked 94 hours. My check came back as if I worked a total of 79.99hours and they acted surprised when I told them I was missing a total of 14hrs. Some days working 9 1/2hrs no breaks. I just wonder what is legal or not? Would I be pay overtime for those hours or are they going to write me a separate check waiving taxes? Is that legal for them to do not reporting that? Help pls!

  7. Denise on May 6, 2019 at 1:45 am

    I work for hotel 3pm to 11pm and im the only employee there so i cant take lunch breaks or breaks the only time is when there are no guests coming in would that be considered my breaks ?

  8. Denise Lawley on May 6, 2019 at 1:15 am

    I work for a hotel and im the only employee there during my shift which is 3pm to 11pm so i cant take no breaks or lunch the only time is when there are no guests coming in is that entitled my breaks ? Or should i be compensated ?

  9. Chris on May 5, 2019 at 7:27 am

    I work a 6am-230pm shift. I get a 15 min paid break at 9am-915am, and a lunch break from 12noon-1230 pm unpaid, with no second break. Is this legal?

  10. angelica on May 3, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    My employer put together an employee appreciation luncheon during working hours I started my shift at 9am and scheduled to be off at 7pm ( I work an hour of overtime). The luncheon was from 11am-130pm. When we went back to work we were told we weren’t entitled to a lunch since they considered our luncheon to be our lunch. We were never told that by attending this luncheon (which we were all required too) that it would mean we forfeited our scheduled hour lunch. Did my employer break the law?

  11. ally on May 1, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Is my employer allowed to determine my meal break time? And if I want to take it at a different time, is that acceptable?

  12. JIsmaelS on April 26, 2019 at 5:31 am

    I work in cargo at LAX and we are in a union. We negotiated a new contract April 2018 even though the last one ended April 2017. I suppose that means we are 2 years into this. Anyway we have not received copies of the contract so we are basically in the dark about certain things. We are told that we have to take our meal break before our sixth hour. We are also told we are entitled to a second meal break before our twelfth hour. The other day I was told that our “10 hour rest break” must be authorized and it can be given anytime between the tenth and twelfth hour at their choosing. This seems to contradict what is written here but I’m wondering if there is a possibility that our breaks and lunches are regulated through our contract but as i mentioned we have not been able to actually see it. Or do these state laws mentioned here overrule anything that may be in that contract. I have never been told we are authorized to take a second meal break after our tenth hour and I was actually denied a third rest break after my tenth hour and was told they would tell me when I can take it. We are in a business where we may be obligated to stay to finish any work that may need to be done. What they do is have us work through and when we are told we can go home we are told we can take our break, if we choose, then go home. This is usually around the eleventh hour. Does this sound like they are being compliant?

    • Mario Garrido on July 20, 2022 at 9:35 am

      Get ahold of your Union Rep/ Business Agent. If you don’t know who that is call your union and ask. They will have all info on what your contract says about everything. That is the way you find out. Not through you employer. The union negotiated all that you get for you so they are a legal representative of you.

  13. Robert on April 24, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    I am a bartender in Beaumont, Ca. I start my shift at 1PM and the earliest I clock out is usually 7:30-8:30PM, so it is always at least 6.5 to 7.5 hrs on my feet. I never get breaks, lunches, anything. I am the only bartender on duty, so there is nobody to relieve me. I get hassled by my boss and customers just for going in the back to get more beer, or god forbid using the restroom. So they watch me hustle all night, don’t let me take breaks, complain when I am not behind the bar at all times, and if I am not serving a drink, I am supposed to just start washing clean glasses to “stay busy”. It sounds like I have a case, am I right in calculating I am supposed to get a paid 10 min break, and an unpaid 30 minute lunch, and am owed 1 hour of wages for each missed break? Also, has anybody ever had experience negotiating with an employer directly for owed wages, with a copy of the law in hand, to avoid all the labor board hooplah? I know my employers, though, they fight tooth and nail for loose change, a several thousand dollar complaint is not going to go over well, and it will NOT be pleasant for me to work there anymore.

    • Keith Brown on April 29, 2019 at 11:05 pm

      Robert , it sounds like you have a legitimate complaint. Once you file a complaint or even attempt to negotiate a settlement with your employer, anything they do to retaliate against you is another violation of the wage laws- A retaliation complaint if they suspend or fire you could force the employer to rehire you, pay all of your back wages + double or triple in liquidated damages for your trouble. The California wage laws are favorable to you and the labor board hooplah as you call it, is a fairly simple process. But its your money youre being cheated out of. The Labor Board is on the employees side when you have a legitimate complaint. YOur employer would owe you 50 minutes of straight pay for the no lunch or breaks and 2 hours of penalty pay per day for each day you were not paid. Also your paychecks stubs dont reflect your actual hours worked so there is a penalty up to $4000 for having inaccuarate pay stubs and another one for $50 for the first check and $100 for every check after that which doesnt properly reflect your time and pay. There are also addditional penalties your employer will pay if they dont settle with you before an official hearing.

    • Amber on May 5, 2019 at 12:45 am

      Just call your local labor board. It sounds open and shut. At my jobs we clock in and out for lunch if we clock out late they automatically add the penalty hour onto our paycheck. An overnight clerk at a convenience store just sued hang up $20,000 for two years worth of Miss breaks. I urge you to get in contact with your local labor board. It would be so easy to prove you are the only one on the clock and therefore have no way of taking breaks

  14. Mac on April 18, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    My employer has me work from 2:00pm-10:30pm 5 days/week with the responsibility of supervisor and receptionist. I am the only supervisor expected to do this, and in result do not get a break where I am relieved of my duties. He does pay me the extra hour for a “premium lunch break” however I was told that I am not entitled to any actual break and was reprimanded for sitting down for 5 minutes to ice my knee after being injured in a motorcycle accident that week. I was under the impression a paid lunch hour means I am paid for an hour break incrementally during my shift since I am not relieved of my duties during my “break”, which I never actually accomplish since the front desk is so constantly busy. Is this legal, and I am mistaken? Or am I being taken advantage of in an illegal manner? My employer has been found guilty of lying to employees in the past on legalities so I do not believe his claim. Thank you for your time

  15. Bradley on April 18, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    My employer has me working a 17 hour shift and wants me to turn around and working 9 hour shift 2 hours later I know this isn’t legal also I get no lunch breaks.

    • Keith Brown on April 29, 2019 at 11:09 pm

      Thats called a split shift so it is like you never stopped working. a 17 hour work day entitles you to time and half after 8 hours and double time after 12 hours. you should get 4 1/2 hour lunch breaks and 5 or 6 10 minute rest breaks. If you are not getting those the employer owes you straight time pay for every break or lunch not taken and 1 hour of penalty pay at straight time for every day you dont get one of the lunches or breaks. Filing a wage claim or asking your employer for your money will protect you under retaliation laws in the labor code if they fire you or discipline you. It is illegal for them to do so because you ask for your money. Do it in writing for evidence.

  16. NICOLE CHRISTIAN on April 18, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    Is it legal for an employer to force employees to go to lunch 3 hours after beginning work? For instance, start and 7:45 am and go to lunch at 10:45 am.

    • Jonathan on April 19, 2022 at 10:54 am

      I was wondering the same thing I take my 10 mins break around 9 and they usually want me to take my half at 10:30 is that even Legal

  17. Sophan on April 17, 2019 at 11:23 am

    Is it legal to have your break 2 hours before yiur start shift? Let’s say your shift is 930-630pm. And you were asked to take your 1st 10min break at 1030 or 11pm.

  18. lito on April 17, 2019 at 6:10 am

    we work at 8:30am until 500pm is this legal cause i understand we have to work at 8 hours only including the break

  19. Mary Gill on April 17, 2019 at 1:54 am

    Our employer is making all employees stay inside the lock gate on our breaks. We are not allowed to go to our car or smoke. I was reading and it states that are not required to stay on premise. They stated that we have a break room and that where we need to be

    • MJ on April 17, 2019 at 3:28 pm

      10 min rest breaks, yes, the employer may limit your ability to leave.
      30 min lunch breaks, no, you may exit the workplace and go wherever you want. If this is limited (you must stay on-site). You still get to take your meal periods but your meal periods MUST be paid.

      • alicia on April 23, 2019 at 6:05 pm

        It is illegal to require an employee to stay on work premises during any 10-minute rest period or 30-minute meal period in California. Good luck paying PAGA suits if you require them to stay on work premises for his or her 10-minute rest period. Very expensive lessen. Save yourselves.

  20. Corina on April 16, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    We work 8 hours shift. Our Company is making us to take 2 hours lunch some times it will be more than 2 hours lunch. It’s that legal?

    • MJ Lazarski on April 17, 2019 at 3:30 pm

      Poor practice but legal.
      Yes, an employer can set your start/end times for lunch periods this includes the duration/length as long as the meal period is at least 30 or more minutes long
      (e.g., illegal to require a 20 minute lunch period).

      • Mary on April 18, 2019 at 6:39 pm

        Hi, so it is legal for them to make you take an hour lunch break (vs just 30 mins) if you work over 8hours? And if I work over 12 or 13 hours do I have to take a total of 1.5hours lunch break?

        I ask as I always work through my lunch and want to take the least amount of time I have to legally.

  21. Jason on April 9, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    If an employee is scheduled an 8 hour shift and they take their meal break 3 hours into that shift, then they work more than 6 hours in the second half of their day…is this a meal break penalty? (assuming all 10 minute breaks are being given)

    • MJ Lazarski on April 17, 2019 at 3:30 pm

      No. It is compliant.

  22. Ginger on April 8, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    I work 12 hour shifts and we waive the second 30 min meal break. Can you give me the breakdown for how many rest periods I’m entitled to?

    • Keith Brown on April 29, 2019 at 11:17 pm

      I presume they are paying you for the second meal break?? 10 minute rest every 4 hours of work

      I also presume you are getting those last 4 hours at overtime rate of 1 1/2 your hourly rate?

      If not you should be getting both of those benefits, if not your employer is violating the law

      • Dario on May 16, 2020 at 10:46 am

        I also work 12 hour shifts. I’m required to take a 45 minute lunch is that legal?

  23. Benjamin S. on April 6, 2019 at 10:06 am

    Can I refuse to take a lunch after only working 2 hours

  24. Heather on April 5, 2019 at 7:22 am

    I understand you can waive your meal break – can you waive the right to your 10 min breaks?

    • Eugene Lee on April 5, 2019 at 7:23 am


    • MJ Lazarski on April 17, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      (in California)
      YES & NO…
      No, the employer is required to provide you with 10 minute rest breaks if you work >3.5 hours/day.
      Yes, you, the employee may choose to forgo and not take the 10 minute rest breaks as they are voluntary.

      30 minute Meal periods are not voluntary and cannot be waived unless working a short <6 hour shift AND a written agreement is made between employee and employer. If you earn a second meal period by working more than 10 hours in a day, you may waive the second earned meal period IF an agreement is made in writing with your employer.

      • Robyn L Sarvis on April 25, 2019 at 11:04 am

        If I waive my second meal period in a 12.5 hour shift, is my employer obligated to provide my first meal break before hour 5:59? Or can they say that since i have waived my second meal period they have until hour 9:59 to provide a meal break?

      • Keith Brown on April 29, 2019 at 11:19 pm

        You can’t waive both of your meal periods. in writing or not its against the law. because you have to work over 10 hours to earn the 2nd meal period.

  25. Martha Levine on April 3, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    What are the exceptions for Healthcare?

    • Wyatt Anthony on April 18, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      Do these rules apply to all employers including city and county government?

  26. Robin Anderson on April 2, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    As a small retail store Employer, I schedule people for 6 hour shifts, tell them to take their 10 min breaks and give them 45 minutes for Lunch. Often times when I am not at the store, employees work straight thru their lunch, because they want the EXTRA money… even though I ALWAYS have another person scheduled 12-2, just to make sure the employee working the 6 hour shift can go to lunch. How can I control that? I always have to pay both employees every time this happens.and Now i am exposing myself to lawsuit? My store is fairly new and I do not make a profit (yet)… I work a forty hour job DTLA just to pay my employees at the store. They all have keys and I tell them, “Lock the door and take a break, its the law.” I WRITE in BOLD Letters on the bottom of every schedule. For every 3 hours scheduled, please take a 10 minute paid break; if your shift is more than 5 hours, it includes an UNPAID BREAK 45 minutes for LUNCH. PLEASE TAKE YOUR BREAKS! What else can I do to make sure I am not vulnerable to lawsuits under the CA Labor Laws?

    • Michelle on April 3, 2019 at 9:29 am

      Write them up! Or find new employees!

    • B on April 8, 2019 at 4:20 pm

      You are legally allowed to work up upright 6 hours without a break. If you want them to take a break, schedule 8 hour shifts with a 30min break. That way they are required to take the break before the 5th hour or THEY will be written up, suspended or terminated. You will not be in violation and can continue to enforce the rule.

    • MJ Lazarski on April 17, 2019 at 3:16 pm

      #1 pay them.
      #2. Stop asking (please) and direct them to follow your written meal and rest period policy and standards. When they refuse to comply, counsel them on paper and inform that repeated violations will result in termination of employment.

      IF you take these steps above you should mitigate any potential wage claims and litigation.

      Courts have been clear… You do NOT have to monitor and sit by the time clocks to ensure meal periods are taken. You must make the rest/meal periods available and have a written standard that they have read and signed on file.

    • Amber on May 5, 2019 at 12:58 am

      I would start with verbal warning write ups and maybe even termination. Because when they don’t take their lunches you’re breaking the law. I know that sounds harsh but I just did a 16-hour shift and the last eight hours with no breaks or lunches. So I’m all about the employees. But the law is there to protect us from being worked today and took advantage of. Your employees should not be twisting that to take money out of your pocket. That’s not what the labor law is 4.

    • Patricia on May 6, 2019 at 9:35 pm

      with regards to the above, it should be known that each employee has been cut back to 1-2 days a week. Most employees are scheduled for 5 to 6 hour shifts. usually 11- 4 or 1-6 pm. The covering employee comes in from 12-2 and we are told to take a lunch an hour after we start our shift. Both employees are not paid as indicated. Whether we are scheduled for a 5 hour shift or a 6 hour shift, and whether we take a lunch or not, 45 minutes IS DEDUCTED FROM OUR PAY PER SHIFT. We don’t work through our lunch because we are trying to get EXTRA money. We work through our lunch because we are trying to make ends meet. We do not want to take 45 minutes unpaid out of our 5 hour minimum wage shifts. By the way, do we have to take 45 minutes? The law says we are entitled to a meal break of at leas 30 minutes if we work 6 hours. Do the employees have to agree to take 45 minutes? I could see enforcing a meal break if we were scheduled to work 8 hours a day 40 hours a week but, we are only scheduled 1-2 days a week 5- 6 hours a shift

    • Patricia on May 6, 2019 at 9:49 pm

      With regards to the above. Let it be known that we are scheduled usually for 5 hour shifts (1-6pm) both the scheduled employee and covering employee are not paid if scheduled employee does not go to lunch.. 45 minutes per shift is deducted from the scheduled employees pay whether lunch was taken or not.. If the employer does not want to work with the employee and allow the employee to work through meal break, can the employer enforce a 45 minute break vs a 30 minute break? Keep in mind the employees were just cut back to 1-2 days a week and are paid minimum wage. Obviously we don’t want to work through our lunch breaks for EXTRA MONEY. We are just truing to pay our bills.

  27. Crystal on April 2, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    We are allowed 1 hour lunch. Are we allowed 2 10 minute breaks as well? We are in the health care industry.

  28. Martha on April 1, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Can I be obligated to leave the premises during lunch break and not eat in my office behind closed doors?

  29. Ricky on March 29, 2019 at 10:36 am

    I thought we get two 15 minutes breaks? Not 10

    • MJ Lazarski on April 17, 2019 at 3:19 pm

      Your employer may allow for longer rest periods, but the law requires 10 minutes only.
      You may ask for more breaks if you are working in high heat conditions, >94 degrees +. OSHA, T8CCR 3395(e)

  30. lisa on March 29, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Hi! I work about 3 1/2 to 4 hours per day. My employer is making me clock out for the 10 minute breaks and does not want to pay me.

    • MJ Lazarski on April 17, 2019 at 3:32 pm

      when working more than 3.5 hours, you earn a singular 10 minute break and should be PAID (on the clock).

  31. Natalie on March 27, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    Can an employee be asked by their boss a work related question while the employee is at lunch?

    • Brandon on March 29, 2019 at 12:08 pm

      No, uninterrupted means no association with anything related to your work.

  32. Sasha on March 27, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    What if an Employee is working on a project with the owner of a company and the employee goes over the 5 hour meal period by 1- 2 minutes should the employee be written up?

  33. Brian on March 27, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Can you waive your right to get a lunch in before the 5hr mark passes on a 9-6 shift. Or waive your right to take a lunch at all (company pays for lunches not taken)

  34. John on March 26, 2019 at 10:28 pm

    We have an 1hour for lunch time, but my boss does not allow employees to go outside during the lunch time. Is it legally possible??? He said we all have to stay in the office only during the lunch time.

    • MJ Lazarski on April 17, 2019 at 3:21 pm

      If you boss requires you to stay on-site, the meal period must be paid.

      your employer can require that you remain on its premises during your meal period, even if you are relieved of all work duties. However if that occurs, you are being denied your time for your own purposes and in effect remain under the employer’s control and thus, the meal period MUST BE PAID. Minor exceptions to this general rule exist under IWC Order 5-2001 regarding healthcare workers. Pursuant to the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders, if you are required to eat on the premises, a suitable place for that purpose must be designated. “Suitable” means a sheltered place with facilities available for securing hot food and drink or for heating food or drink, and for consuming such food and drink.

  35. Sarah on March 24, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    How does this affect or not affect employees who have a bargained union contract with the company?

  36. Mario Mejia on March 22, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Is my employer responsible by law to have a schedule that states your clock in time, and your clock out?…Becasu I only have a time schudel to clock in only..

  37. james iaconis on March 22, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    can you get fired for reporting to work 2 minutes late more than 2 times a week

  38. Kayla on March 20, 2019 at 10:05 am

    If someone was suppose to take a rest period but instead took a meal period, do they need receive penalty pay for not taking a 2nd rest period because they were scheduled 8 hours?

    • Martin on March 23, 2019 at 6:27 pm

      Can your employer sent you take a 30 min break within 2 hrs worked, knowing that you are scheduled to work over 6 hrs?

  39. Dave Marcus on March 19, 2019 at 6:07 am

    I would like to have a second persons thoughts. I’ve filed a claim but everyone involved seems to be draggin their feet on the issue & I’ve been unable to get a hold of my person. Is this normal or not? Jus curious

  40. Olivia munoz on March 18, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    My supervisor sends me to lunch 2 and a half hours after my shift started and breaks 40 minutes after my shift that means I’m going to be without a break for 6 hours not to mention that I’m pre diabetic I need to eat ( not to mention that send some coworkers home after 1 and a half hours after they shift without paying them the 4 that the law requires)

  41. Christina Reed on March 18, 2019 at 4:47 am

    Hi I’ve worked 75 times over 5 hrs before taking a lunch what kind if settlement would I get. I didn’t get paid 1 time for a meal penatly. And what is the price that is paid per penatly

    • Diana dacunha on April 18, 2019 at 3:24 am

      I work 5 days a week from 345pm-to 1215am, and that’s at the least, I’ve been with company for a year and a half and I’ve never not once have recieved a uninterrupted 10 minute break let alone a meal break

  42. Gamma on March 17, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Hi! I work 10 hours a day 6 days a week as a truck driver with no lunch and breaks taken, what should I get paid on regular hours and overtime hours? We do agriculture job in Visalia Ca . Thanks in advance!!

  43. Sara on March 16, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    My typical shift is 11am to 7pm. I’m told I need to take my break at 12:15, so 1 hour and 15 minutes into my shift. My question is, how much time needs to pass legally before I break?

  44. A on March 16, 2019 at 5:36 am

    For 4 years I’ve been working without lunch break or 10 min break , what am I entitled of? Can henfire me for making a claim?

    • Thy Truong on March 20, 2019 at 4:48 am

      My shift begin 10:00am to 7:00pm, I want to have lunch around 1200pm and rest around 5:00pm, is it legal for me to require my boss.

  45. Kay on March 15, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    My shift begins at 06:30 am and if we work a double the shift would end at 01:00 am. They are stating that in order to receive a bonus we must work a minimum of 6 consecutive hours of the extra shift; however, we are not entitled to a second meal break of 30 minutes unless we work until 01:30 am. If we choose to take a second meal break and only work until 01:00 am they will take away the bonus pay.

  46. Brian on March 14, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    Hello. I’m not understanding this. I’ve been playing around with this calculator. If someone works from 9am-5:15pm, it says time worked is 8:15 hours, but it doesn’t even show you what if you punched in your lunch break, which is unpaid. For example using a 9-5:15 schedule and the employee takes a 45 minute lunch at 12:45pm, the employee only works 7.5 hours, so shouldn’t that employee only get one 15 minute break and one 45 minute lunch instead of 2 15 minute breaks and 1 45 minute lunch.

  47. erica on March 14, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    If I work from 5:00PM to 9:pm total of 4 hours when do I get to take my break? is it after working 2 hours? or does it matter?

    • Corina on April 16, 2019 at 10:41 pm

      We work 8 hours shift. Our Company is making us to take 2 hours lunch some times it will be more than 2 hours lunch. It’s that legal?

  48. Cheryl on March 13, 2019 at 9:11 am

    Can my CA employer force me to take my 30 minute break 15 minutes after starting my shift? 10am start, told must clock out from 1015-1045am and then work without a break until 430pm sometimes 530pm.

    • Robert on March 15, 2019 at 9:42 am

      No they can not. I would contact the labor department and make a report.

      • Rochelle Ventura on July 26, 2022 at 8:03 am

        Ok lets say if you start work at 7:30am right? What time should be you’re first break by law?

  49. Ralph perales on March 12, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    can I take a meal break right on the fifth hour like start at 8 am and take lunch right at 5 . pm on the dot . Please send me an answer to my email

  50. M. Figs on March 10, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    My shift starts at 4:30pm and it ends at 12:23am. I only take (1) 10 min break around 6:30pm and at 8:30pm I take my 30 min meal break . Am I entitle to another 10 min break.?

    • Robert on March 15, 2019 at 9:41 am

      Yes you are entitled to a second rest break which should be around 10:30pm

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