California Meal Break & Rest Break Law (2022) – Quick Calculator + Charts

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.

Meal Break & Rest Break Calculator

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.


Start of Your Shift (e.g., “9:00 am”): End of Your Shift (e.g., “5:00 pm”):
(The page will refresh after you press “calculate”. Scroll down to see results in blue text.)

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. However, under California labor laws, they must still receive their meal breaks and rest breaks. 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.

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3,171 Comments

  1. John on July 8, 2022 at 3:05 pm

    I manage a team of drivers that make 3 scheduled trips a day to and from a location approximately 17 miles from our home office work base. If a driver prefers to go beyond the end of his 5th hour to take a meal break because he would rather take a lunch at the home office location, would that be allowed under the CA labor laws? If so, is written consent from the employee required, or advisable from a liability perspective?

    • Eugene Lee on July 25, 2022 at 10:33 pm

      The employee can CHOOSE to take their late lunch. The employer is not legally permitted to encourage or make the employee do so, however. As long as it’s completely voluntary on the employee’s part, the late lunch would not be in violation of the law. There are a number of things employers can do to document that the late lunch is the result of the employee’s voluntary choice. I would suggest consulting with an employer-side attorney.

  2. Shawn on July 4, 2022 at 4:31 am

    I work for a major retailer. I work 2:15pm to 11:15pm, one hour break. We are part of a union, but our union is not very good. I got my lunch, but didn’t get a chance to take a 10 until 9:30pm, I got 3 minutes in before I had to return to work. Tried again at 10:15, got 8 and a half minutes in before having to return to work. From 7pm to 11:15pm I was the only employee there, sometimes I am alone by 6:30.. So i am alone for up to half my shift (sometimes longer) which impacts my ability to take rest breaks and restroom breaks. My immediate manager claims I should not need to use the restroom after my coverage leaves. So I have a few questions. Firstly, can I legally go around the union. I do not have faith in their ability to handle the situation. I don’t know if being union means I can no longer use the labor board for my complaints. Can I get a lawyer myself? I know you can sue a union for misrepresentation, but does lack of contact and therefore representation count as lack of representation? Neither union contact info or labor board contacts are up in the break room. I only got the unions number by asking a bunch of employees till someone gave it to me. When I was hired I was told I had to break my second 10 up into smaller breaks, which to my knowledge is a violation of being a “uninterrupted” break. I also have limitations on where I can take my break, given by multiple managers who conflict each other. I was told I had to be somewhere I can see into the store, out back, but “at least as far as the sidewalk” which means either the sidewalk or road beyond. I can use the break room if I have coverage, but its in the main store, 3 min away, 6 min round trip. My break begins when I declare it, so I would have 4 min to utilize the break room before walking back to my station. I am tall and can walk fairly fast, but some of my coworkers are not capable of making it in time. Is that really all an employer has to do, make the location of the break so far away you waste it just getting there? I also cant really use a chair. I have to sit on the sidewalk. I have a chair I keep in my car, but my manager has some sort of vendetta against chairs and refuses to let us have one. Some of the older employees take breaks in the restroom so they can sit. This sort of thing has been my experience here for 2 years now. I am angry and frustrated beyond reason. My mental health has been degrading and I am quickly reaching the end of my rope.

  3. Viet on June 22, 2022 at 1:27 pm

    Hello,

    I work from 10:00 AM – 6:30 PM, so after taking my 30 minute lunch break, I still have 2 10-minute paid breaks. Is it legal for me to take those 2 10-minute breaks at the end of my shift so I can go home earlier at 6:10 PM?

    Thanks.

    • Eugene Lee on July 25, 2022 at 10:39 pm

      The employer has the right and discretion to set your work and break schedule. What you propose would be ok only if the employer agreed to it. The law requires that for most 8 hour shifts, a rest break should come before and after the lunch break. But if you wish to take both rest breaks at the end of your shift, you can do that as long as the employer is ok with it. The employer cannot encourage or require you to do so however.

  4. Trina on June 21, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    Is it legal for my supervisor to give me 2 10 minute breaks within the same hour if there is no real need for business purposes they just to “get the breaks out of the way”

    • Eugene Lee on July 25, 2022 at 10:42 pm

      The California Supreme Court has stated that, in a typical 8 hour shift, the 10-min rest break must come before AND after the meal break. In other words, there has to be a rest break on either side of the meal break. If that isn’t happening, that would arguably be a violation of the break laws. Keep in mind, however, there are always exceptions.

  5. YS on June 20, 2022 at 10:10 pm

    I worked from home for one hour and then clocked out for 30 minutes. In that time I drove to work, got to work and ate breakfast. Is that illegal? I did not take a separate 30 minute lunch break later. Just the one after an hour of work in the morning. So I worked one hour, clocked out for 30, and then worked 6.5 hours after that.

    • Eugene Lee on July 25, 2022 at 10:44 pm

      In total, your shift was 7.5 hours. In that case, you are entitled to only one 30-minute unpaid meal break. In your example, it sounds like that is exactly what you go. So it appears there is no violation of the break laws in your example.

  6. Shawnee on June 20, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    We schedule our team to work no more than 6 hours and they are given a 10 minute break, to be taken at their desired time. We have on file a Meal Waiver for the 30 minute meal break that should be take before the 6th hour, as they prefer to work for the extra income. The meal wavier on file states they are waiving their meal period (works no more than 6 hours) and the second meal period (works no more than 10 hours) would be waived IF the first meal period was taken.
    Question: We have occasional employees that work over 6 hours due to it getting busy in the restaurant, (but work no more than 7 hours)
    Do they have to take a 30 minute meal break if they work over 6 hours, or is this covered under the meal waiver we have on file?
    If it is not covered with the meal waiver we have on file and they do not take their 30 minute meal break, they are requesting to have on file a standard meal waiver covering any time worked.
    Thank you

    • Eugene Lee on July 25, 2022 at 10:47 pm

      Your question is: “Do they have to take a 30 minute meal break if they work over 6 hours, or is this covered under the meal waiver we have on file?”. The answer is, yes. If they work over 6 hours, then the waiver is invalid at that point and the employee must be authorized and permitted to take their meal break. Moreover, that meal break must begin before the end of the fifth hour. Meal break waivers cannot be modified to cover shifts that exceed 6 hours as they would be unenforceable. However, keep in mind, employers are not required to police meal breaks, they must merely make them available and refrain from discouraging or prohibiting employees from taking them. If employees choose to skip their meal breaks, that would not be a violation of the law.

  7. James on June 14, 2022 at 9:21 pm

    If I work from 12pm-10pm (10 hours) but take a lunch unpaid (30minutes) would that mean my “work hours” are technically 9.5 hours? If so, would working 12pm-1030pm under the same circumstances set me at 10 “work hours” or 10.5 meaning I would be required to take a second meal break?

    • Eugene Lee on June 14, 2022 at 10:14 pm

      Everything you said is correct, except, you must work “over” 10 hours to qualify for a second meal break. Working 12 pm to 10:30 pm wouldn’t work. You would have to work until 10:31 pm.

  8. Ann Gueva on June 11, 2022 at 10:18 am

    I work for a preschool program. In my union contract it states that my 15 minutes break should be duty free. My boss said that I can not take my break outside the classroom because I still count as part of ratio. Now she just told me that I can not eat my healthy snack because if licensing walks in for inspection she/he is going to question why I am eating. I told my boss, “I don’t eat junk snacks, and I am still in the classroom in a corner and children can not see what I eat because my lunch box blocks the view of my snack”. What is your advice?

    • Eugene Lee on June 11, 2022 at 12:59 pm

      Ann, while this sounds like a rest break violation, I would suggest you first consult your union contract to see what it says about rest breaks. Union contracts will typically supersede California labor laws.

  9. Priscilla Paras-Huerta on June 6, 2022 at 3:22 pm

    Is it legal for an employer to suggest I combine my lunch break and my break (10 min) ?

    • Eugene Lee on June 9, 2022 at 9:42 pm

      There are a few exceptions, but the answer is almost always, “yes”. If that is happening to you, we’d be happy to discuss it with you further. We can be reached at 213-992-3299.

  10. Angela Turner on June 3, 2022 at 9:05 am

    Let’s say an employee starts at 8am and clocks out for lunch at 1pm then punches back in at 2pm and works until 5pm. Are they eligible for a meal penalty?

    • Eugene Lee on June 9, 2022 at 9:49 pm

      There are always exceptions, but for the most part, the answer is going to be yes. The reason is that employees must be permitted to begin their lunch break BEFORE the sixth hour of their shift starts. So in your example, the employee is punching in at the start of the sixth hour of their shift. That is literally one minute too late.

  11. jessie b on May 30, 2022 at 5:05 am

    i work from 11pm to 730am
    do i need to clock out for lunch at 4am or 3:59am?

    • Eugene Lee on June 9, 2022 at 9:51 pm

      The employee in your example must be permitted to clock out for lunch by no later than 3:59 am, otherwise it is technically a late lunch and a meal break penalty is owed to the employee. Note, if the employee is VOLUNTARILY clocking out for lunch late through no fault of the employer, then there is no violation.

  12. Marie on May 21, 2022 at 11:20 am

    Hello, As a surgical tech when with a patient I can not leave for lunch at the 5th hour. Can my employer make me exempt or is there a way I can avoid the lunch penalty? Because after I am able to take my lunch the time I want.

  13. CL on May 21, 2022 at 5:28 am

    I work the overnight shift. The employees agreed that during this shift, we combine our 2 15 minute breaks and our 30 minute lunch break into a full hour break. Is this illegal in California?

    • Melissa on May 25, 2022 at 1:59 pm

      It is illegal in California to combined breaks to make them longer.

  14. W H on May 19, 2022 at 4:31 pm

    I need some clarification on how the CA Meal premiums are to be calculated. It has been my understanding that only “hours worked” were to be used as the calculation for the Meal Premium. However, we have legal counsel telling us that CA law mandates that the “work period” (to include a bona fide meal break of at least 30 minutes) must be the basis of the CA Meal Premium calculation. We currently use UKG for our HRIS/Payroll/Time Management system and when presented the question, they (CA Time Management SMEs) had never heard of this mandate. Can I please get clarification on what the basis actually is for the meal premium calculation?

  15. Jack on May 19, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    If you are the only medical professional on duty and cannot take a meal break within 5 hrs, can your employer not pay you for the missed meal periord?

  16. Oksana on May 18, 2022 at 10:33 pm

    I own an animal hospital but am a fairly new business owner. Some of my employees are asking if they can have a permanent position in which they waive their meal breaks. With a 30-60 minute break they usually fall into a 7-8 hour shift. I don’t mind allowing them to waive their meal breaks but from what I’m reading, it’s against the law. My friend worked at an animal hospital in which they did not have meal breaks but would “eat on the clock.” Her shifts were also 8-10-hour shifts. I’m not sure how that works and honestly, I would love to give my employees the opportunity to choose how they work, meaning those who want a break by all means can take it but some just have schedule restrictions and prefer more hours. Is this possible?

    • Melissa on May 25, 2022 at 2:12 pm

      If they work over 6 hours they must take a meal break of at least 30 minutes. If they have to eat on the clock (as your friend’s situation), they are owed an hour of pay (I believe) for each day not provided a meal break.

  17. Mercedes Hill on May 16, 2022 at 10:39 am

    OK I have a question I work at a GNM Chevron gas station where my hours have been reduced to six hours so from 9 AM to 3 PM and I wave my lunch because I can’t afford to be paid at 5 1/2 hours so it says by law we had that option so I waive it now in order for me to be able to clock out at 3 PM the other cashier who is supposed to be signed on the register needs to be at the cash register to take over at 3 PM however either she’s in the bathroom still she’s late so on and so forth but clearly I will have to sit at the cash register at work until she’s there so I can clock out now usually when she gets to the Kasher it is already now 305 310 315 but I’ve been working the whole time and I’ll clock out soon as she gets there no my employer wanted to write me up for the mail violation I argued and said I would not except a write up because I felt it was not my fault at 3 PM I’m ready to clock out and go home being that we’re not allowed to shut down the store we can’t close it will have a line full of customers it’s not able to work out the way he thought it was but I know that I can’t leave unless someone’s there for me to leave so basically I was paid the extra hour for every day which came up to a total of $544 then I seen that he put a COVID-19 sick pay of 32 hours totaling at $544 deduction so it technically took away the earnings that I was given so basically it looks like I was paid but I wasn’t so my time goes and paid for because the $544 was taken away am I wrong or is there something not right with this picture I understand the six the fifth hour mark and all that but we got to understand that I don’t want to have to take a lunch and stay 30 minutes longer. For nobody in order for me to clock out there needs to be someone clocked in so I could be relieved and if there’s not what am I to do

    • Giovanna on May 18, 2022 at 11:42 am

      That’s illegal! He can’t take your COVID Sick Pay! He needs to make sure that girl clocks in at your 6th hour, if she doesn’t he should take over so u don’t get that hour of pay and relieve you of your duties on your 6th hour.

    • Martin on May 19, 2022 at 6:45 pm

      In my opinion, you need to explain, mention, argue, comment, etc. to your boss/owner of the store in writing, NEVER argue without having something in writing to back you up. Always use texting, email, and something that you can prove to the Labor Board or any other legal advisers if you decide to complain about your boss/owner of the place you are currently working.

  18. Jon Calupe on May 11, 2022 at 5:16 pm

    If a person is scheduled 8 hours, say 8-4PM, is it legal to do the meal break first (30 Min Break), say at 10 AM, then the 2 rest breaks (10 Min Breaks) after, say at 12 PM and 2 PM?

    • Eliza on June 3, 2022 at 7:48 am

      No. Has to go: rest break, meal break, rest breaks

  19. Sam Kushner on May 5, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    If we pay employees for meal and break time is that 401(k) eligible pay? Part 2 is, if we neglected to provide meal time and are now required to pay the additional hour of pay, do I deduct 401(k) from this “penalty” amount?

  20. Darlyn on May 4, 2022 at 10:44 am

    I have question, construction work differ in any way? If you work 8 hours under Caltrans is your employer allowed to switch you over to a different pay without you knowing? so they are not paying overtime. They pay at regular pay.

    My other question is ? can you be written up for not taking a break? No verbal warning or set times to take break. Almost feels like retaliation from the supervisor for their mistake and probably getting in trouble themselves. If the staff ask for break you are questioned if you don’t take a break then you get in trouble.

  21. j on May 2, 2022 at 10:26 pm

    If I’m scheduled 9-6 and i get a half hour lunch break, is the last half hour of my day overtime?

    • Eugene Lee on May 2, 2022 at 10:33 pm

      Yes, you are correct. That is because you were on the clock for 8.5 hours excluding the unpaid 30-minute meal break. Anything over 8 hours in a day is generally considered overtime, subject to certain exceptions.

      • Tiffany on May 4, 2022 at 2:38 am

        Does anyone know if it is taxed at regular or supplemental rate?

  22. Playy on April 23, 2022 at 2:14 pm

    Can your employer make you take your lunch break an hour after arriving to work.

    • Eugene Lee on May 2, 2022 at 10:32 pm

      I don’t believe it is illegal. There is a Supreme Court case called Brinker v Superior Court that states that, in an 8-hour shift, there should be a lunch break with a 10-minute paid rest break both before and after the lunch break. Lunch breaks must also be permitted to start no later than the end of the fifth hour. Other than that, I’m not aware of any cases addressing the timing of meal breaks.

  23. Jane on April 23, 2022 at 12:08 pm

    I am a registered dental hygienist. In an 8-hour shift, I get a 1-hour lunch break after 4 hours of work. If I am entitled to a separate 10min paid break, does it need to be a scheduled break? In other words, will it say on my daily schedule the time of the break and will it be blocked off so no patients are put in that time slot? Is this part of the law in California?

    • Eugene Lee on April 23, 2022 at 1:57 pm

      There is no such legal requirement. A California Supreme Court case, Brinker v Sup. Ct., held that employers are not responsible for “policing” breaks. However, the law requires that the employer “provide” you with a rest break, and they must not prevent or discourage you from taking such break. If you are being overscheduled or don’t have someone to cover for you to take your break, you need to bring that to your employer’s attention (preferably in writing, such as email or text). If they don’t fix the problem, consider filing a labor board complaint.

  24. George Sutton on April 21, 2022 at 8:07 am

    Thank you Eugene for such a quick response. I noticed in my comment that I used They instead of Employer. But you got the point.

    • Luis Sánchez on May 4, 2022 at 9:02 pm

      I work on the restaurant industry. My question usually I’m scheduled for 5-6hrs my boss make me take a meal break after 3 min been on the clock is that legal? I been doing it since I need the job but they been giving me a hard time when I’m taking my test break saying I’m on the clock and I should be working not eating during my 10 min rest break.

      • Eugene Lee on May 4, 2022 at 10:29 pm

        By law, you must be permitted to do what you want and go where you want on your rest breaks. Your employer is violating your rest break rights. You should consider filing a wage claim.

  25. George Sutton on April 21, 2022 at 6:55 am

    I work 6 AM to 2:30 PM with a half hour lunch. I would like to take my lunch at 11:30 vs 11:00 which is the 5 hour mark. They don’t mind that I take lunch at 11:30 and I’m fine with taking lunch 5.5 hours after start time. They recently told me that they are afraid of legal liability if I don’t take my lunch at 11. Is this a problem that can be mitigated verbally or with written consent?

    • Eugene Lee on April 21, 2022 at 7:04 am

      I believe so. You could potentially submit something in writing to the employer formally requesting to be able to take your lunch late at 11:30 am. That should protect the employer from legal liability.

  26. DN on April 20, 2022 at 10:39 pm

    I work from 8-3 with an hour lunch, do I qualify for one or two breaks?

    • Eugene Lee on April 20, 2022 at 11:11 pm

      One. If you worked 1 minute more, it would be two rest breaks.

  27. Robert Ly on April 16, 2022 at 11:30 am

    As an employer, I offer to give my employees lunch before the 5th hour of work. For example, they come in around 6am and I allow them to take lunch between 10-11am. However, sometimes they want to work through that time and take their actual lunch closer to 12pm or 1230. How do I go about making sure I will not be penalized for my employees willfully choosing to delay their lunch break? Do I need them to sign some kind of acknowledgement form every time they delay their lunch?

    • Eugene Lee on April 19, 2022 at 10:24 pm

      That’s a good question for which I’m not sure there’s a great answer. You might want to consult with an employer defense lawyer.

  28. Melodie on April 16, 2022 at 11:23 am

    Hi,
    I work in child care, I work 8 hours a day. We do not get our breaks on time. I start at 8am and should have a break at 10. Sometimes we dont get a break at all, or she will say to take our break with our lunch, or she will have us take our breaks really late like at 11-12 which is 1 hour before we take our lunch. We automatically get paid the “missed lunch” through adp if we take it after 1pm. Then our 2nd break is usually missed or i have seen some of the other teachers take it 45 minutes before then have to clock out for the day. We are off at 5pm and they make us stay over time without asking and we can not just leave because we are teachers in a classroom with kids. We ask if we can leave at our scheduled time and the boss gets mad and says she will see what she can do or rudely ask what we have to do after that we can not stay pass our scheduled time. So, my main question is if we are suppose to get paid a “missed break” when we take it late (after 3-4 hours) or if we take it with our lunch? as of right now we only get paid the “missed break” if we dont take it at all, if she remembers to put it into ADP. Also, are we required to stay pass our shift when there is no written form saying we have mandatory overtime? THANK YOU!

    • Eugene Lee on April 19, 2022 at 10:27 pm

      First, rest breaks cannot as a general rule be combined with lunch breaks. The employer can be penalized for doing that. Second, there is not clear rule regarding when exactly the rest breaks must be taken. Meal breaks are different – they must be taken no later than the end of the fifth hour. Third, if you are required to stay after your shift ends, you need to be paid for that time on the clock. If that is not happening, then the employer is engaging in wage theft. You should consider filing a labor board complaint.

  29. Stu on April 16, 2022 at 7:15 am

    I am an employer. We follow the guidelines. 10 minute breaks every 2 hours and meal at 4 hours. We do not have the employees clock out for their 10 minutes. Problem I have is an employee is now claiming we did not give those 10 minute breaks after dissmissal. Luckily I have witnesses and video tape to prove otherwise. The question: Is it acceptable to change the 10 mintue breaks to 15(or longer, even up to three 30 minute breaks) minute breaks and have them clock out and be unpaid? or is the 10 minutes of that required to be paid?

    • Melissa on May 25, 2022 at 2:25 pm

      The 10 minute breaks are to be paid so they should not clock out.

  30. John Velho on April 12, 2022 at 3:10 pm

    I am so grateful for all the hard work that Eugene Lee did for me and truly appreciate all the time and effort he put into my case. Eugene really cares about his clients. I say this because Eugene saw that I had a very good case and instead of taking it on himself he handed my case over to a powerful firm that could take my case to the next level for a greater reward. If you have any doubts about the attorney I rest assure you that he is a genuinely good person and awesome attorney. He will work and fight for your rights to the end.

  31. Stefanie Martinez on April 12, 2022 at 12:14 pm

    My employer is in Georgia and i am here in California. I clocked out at the start of the 5th hour for Lunch and they said they getting a meal penalty for that. also that i should clock out for breaks, so i wanted to know if everyone always understood that CA meal penalty is when you don’t clock out after 5 hours and not at the top of the 5th hour.

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 4:07 pm

      I’m going to use an example to answer your question. If you clock in at 9 am, then you must be permitted to start lunch by no later than 1:59 pm. If you are prevented from starting at lunch so that you finally clock out for lunch at 2 pm, that is a late lunch violation by the employer. The other thing to note is that employers typically have the right to set an employee’s work schedule including telling the employee when to take their lunch. I hope that answers your question.

      • Melisss on April 16, 2022 at 5:51 pm

        Eugene ,will you please help me because I have alot of violations and unlawful situations with this rmplotlyer and as well as tio theft and no rest breaks . I have a whole Punjabi restaurant to ensure that they are stolen from anymore and that they get their breaks and overtime and that they get treated right.

  32. Chris Howell on April 11, 2022 at 4:38 pm

    I work 12 hour days and have waived my second meal period. I read that if the second meal period if waived, the first meal period can then be taken up to the tenth hour of the shift, is this true? ADP reflects this in their timesheet app. A premium is not triggered until the first meal break is logged after the 10 hour, this is all assuming the second meal break is waived.

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 4:10 pm

      You can only waive one lunch period in a day. If you waive your second lunch, you must have been permitted to take your first lunch. As for timing, if you do take your first lunch, you must be allowed to start your lunch break no later than the end of the fifth hour. So, for example, if you work from 9 am to 9 pm and waived your second lunch, the law requires the employer to permit you to take a first lunch no later than 1:59 pm. It sounds like your employer is saying that your lunch need start before the 10th hour. That is incorrect and a violation of the law as that leads to a late lunching violation.

  33. Dennis on April 10, 2022 at 10:42 am

    My employer forced me to sign a waiver at the beginning of my employment to waive all meal breaks and rest breaks. I work 12 hour shifts, I’m not allowed to sit down or leave my work area unless to use the restroom. I also do not get paid over time over 8hrs. Is this legal?

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 4:51 pm

      You can only waive meal breaks. Rest breaks are never waivable. If you work a 12 hour shift, you must be permitted to take no less than 3 ten-minute rest breaks that are uninterrupted, work-free, where you are allowed to leave and take a walk if you want to. Bathroom breaks do NOT count as rest breaks. Overtime must typically be paid if you work over 8 hours in a day, 40 hours in a week, or 7 days in a row. There are exceptions though, I would need to know a lot more to see if any of those exceptions apply to you. But overall, it sounds like there are some violations going on in your workplace.

  34. Cheyenne on April 6, 2022 at 2:02 pm

    My boss said that I took my meal break “too early”. I took my break less than 2 hours into a 6 hour shift… she is trying to tell me that if I work more than 5 hours AFTER my break I would be going into overtime, which the company is not approving now. But I returned from lunch at 12:30 and work until 5:15, so this would not be the case. Is she bad at math or is she right? If I work 5+ hours AFTER my lunch break, is that considered overtime?

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 4:55 pm

      First, overtime isn’t calculated from the lunch break. It is calculated based on the start of your shift. If you work a 6 hour shift, when you take your lunch should have no impact on whether you are entitled to overtime (and you wouldn’t be so entitled because you only work 6 hours). So I think your boss is a little confused about how overtime works. That being said, the employer has the right to set the work schedule for most employees in most circumstances and the employee must comply with that. So right or wrong, if your boss wants you to take lunch later into your shift, your boss has the right to set that policy. I hope that answers your questions.

  35. Louie on April 6, 2022 at 11:17 am

    What about religious beliefs and practices such as Ramadan for Muslims in the workplace? Are we required to take a meal break during a time we’re not allowed to have a meal. Can company make arrangements or accommodations for religious purposes?

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 4:58 pm

      I don’t think giving you a meal break is the same thing as requiring you to eat during your meal break. In fact, quite the opposite – during meal breaks, you must be permitted to do what you want with your time. That would include NOT eating because of religious reasons. If your employer is actually ordering you to eat during your meal break, that could actually be a violation of the meal break laws (and possibly religious discrimination). But it doesn’t sound like that is what is happening here. Short of that, I don’t believe your employer is violating the law by permitting you to take a meal break, and leaving up to you whether or not you actually eat during that break.

  36. Tami T on March 15, 2022 at 6:08 am

    I have three scenarios I would like feedback on:
    1) Employee is flying from Michigan to Californian on Monday to Begin work in CA on Tuesday. The employee time starts in Michigan at 8:00 am EST and ends upon his arrival in CA at 5:00 pm PST (12 hours total). The employees time will go to a California project, however they have not been working in CA they have been traveling to CA. Would the CA Meal/Break rules apply, and if so would it apply to all the hours?
    2) This scenario is the reverse of scenario 1. The employee is flying/traveling from California to Michigan. They employee time starts in CA at 8:00 am EST and land in Michigan at 11:00:PM (12:00 hours total). The employees time will go to a California project, however they have not been working in CA they have been traveling to Michigan from Cali. Would the CA Meal/Break rules apply, and if so would it apply to all the hours?
    3) If an employee is traveling for the day from one Job/location in California to another job/location in California, not working but just traveling. Do the CA Meal/Break rules apply to those hours.

  37. Martin Salinas on March 11, 2022 at 12:14 pm

    Are employees still entitled to a meal break after attending a company sponsored lunch??

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 5:00 pm

      That depends on whether you were required to attend the lunch by the company, and whether you were allowed to do whatever you wanted during that lunch. If attendance was required and if the employer further required you to listen to speeches, participate in certain activities, or socialize with coworkers, I think that is arguably time that should be on the clock and compensated, and that you should be further permitted to take a genuine, compliant meal break separate and apart from the company luncheon.

  38. Crystal on March 8, 2022 at 3:01 pm

    Hi. I work in HR and my payroll team and I are trying to figure this out. My schedule is from 8 am – 5 pm. I’ve asked my manager if I could clock out for lunch at 2:30 pm to pick up my child from school then go home and clock back in to finish working the remainder of the day. I am choosing to waive my lunch to a later time for personal needs. Is this possible without penalizing my employer? I appreciate it.

    • Penny on March 12, 2022 at 10:17 am

      No, unfortunately there is no way to waive your break to after 6 hours. It must be taken before 12:59 in your case.

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 10:11 pm

      Two things. First, if you as the employee choose to take a late lunch, well after the end of the fifth hour, the employer can’t be held liable for that and would not be penalized. It would not be a violation because it was your choice to do so. Second, the employer typically has the right to set your work and break schedule. So, you can ask to take a late lunch, but it would be up to the employer to agree to it or not.

  39. Mayra on March 2, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    I work from 8:45-5:15
    No lunch or breaks, how many hours per day should I be getting paid?

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 10:13 pm

      If you are being prevented or discouraged by the employer from taking your meal and rest breaks each day, then you would be entitled to a maximum penalty of 2 hours per day – 1 hour per day for a denied lunch break and 1 hour per day for a denied rest break.

  40. Monica on February 23, 2022 at 5:48 pm

    I accidentally clocked back from my lunch 1 minute early and was paid the OT. Am I also entitled to a 1-hr meal penalty?

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 10:14 pm

      No you wouldn’t. The employer is liable only if they prevented or discouraged you from taking you for full lunch break. In this case, you stated you accidentally clocked back in from lunch early, through no fault of the employer. That means the employer wouldn’t be liable and wouldn’t owe you a 1 hour meal penalty.

  41. Blancaa1alvarez@gmail.com on February 20, 2022 at 2:48 pm

    Corporate abuse and labor board allows it if the employee doesn’t complain. Usually a law suit will curve the abuse. Pathetic.

    • Ba on February 20, 2022 at 2:49 pm

      Remove my comment.

  42. John on February 19, 2022 at 11:40 am

    I have been currently working at a gas station for a little over 4 months. I was informed that i can take a lunch whenever i want to as long as someone is able to cover the registers while im on lunch. I have asked in the beginning what happens if i can’t take a lunch. I was just told “then dont take a lunch”. I am the main closer from 4pm-12am but have to stay longer most of the time to do the night cleaning. The only other person that works with me is the 1pm-9pm. There are 2 people that work 1-9s and one is highly aggressive when it comes to customer service to the point where I’ve had multiple customers get in his face for the way he communicates with them and one customer became physically violent with him due to the things he was saying. The other 1-9 gets super frustrated working on the register to the point where im constantly being called to help her. I’ve made complaints to my manager that im unable to take a lunch because i fear that i will walk in and one of my coworkers will be in a physical altercation with a customer or how frustrated my coworkers get its like i have to keep an eye on them and handle the customers myself. My manager says he will take care of it but nothing ever happens. A friend of mine was stabbed to death from a customer while working there because of an altercation. There have been multiple days where the 1-9s would leave 2 to 3 hours before their shift ends and leave me to close their registers as well. This past monday i was only at work for 1 hour and was left by myself for the rest of my shift. If i were to mention that i am unable to get a lunch to my manager due to these reasons his response is “welcome to my world” or “thats the same thing i have to deal with” or “now you know how it feels to be in my shoes” but i am an employee not a manager. My work only provides time sheets and its the employees responsibility to write their times. When we run out of time sheets we just write our times on a piece of paper. I was the one who provided the time sheets when we ran out because the manager said “it was out of stock”. A few coworkers would literally leave hours early and write that they left at the end of their shift. If i were to mention that to my manager his response would be “we will see how their paystub looks”. Anytime i try to go a little further up and speak to the owner about any of these issues he will tell me to inform and let my manager know and talk to my manager about it. Any issues that involve police being at the store the owner will tell me to make sure they keep it outside he doesnt want to see his store on the news. Sorry for a long comment. I have had multiple customers telling me i should file a claim against them because they notice that im there so often doing everything and that i should be getting a lunch even when im by myself. I get looked at as if im a manager but I let everyone know that i am just an employee. So i figured i would ask out of curiosity. I myself do not want to be in trouble for the fact that im unable to take a lunch. If i were to even try to attempt to close the store while i am by myself to take a lunch then i would be in trouble with both my manager and the owner. The only times im allowed to lock the door is if i need to use the restroom or im leaving the store when i get off.

    • Tiffany Johnston on March 8, 2022 at 1:19 pm

      sounds like you need to get a new job.

  43. Andy on February 14, 2022 at 11:14 pm

    My manager is now requiring everyone who works more than 6 hours to take a 30 min break at the start of their shift. She made it so everyone comes in 30 minutes before their usual time, clocks in then goes on a break within 5 minutes of clocking in. Is it legal to force a break at the start of the shift?

    If I don’t have to be on site during my 30 minute lunch break, do I even need to show up to work if she’s forcing the break at the start of the day?

    • Mel on March 29, 2022 at 10:58 pm

      I also have an issue with my employer making me take a lunch break as soon as i clock in, are they allowed to do that? i’m a server and they don’t give us a rest break at all. we aren’t allowed to leave the premises during our lunch break either, someone please help !!

  44. Sarah K on February 14, 2022 at 8:11 am

    Can my employer pay for the lunches of those who work four 10 hour days but not pay lunches for everyone else??

  45. Linda on February 9, 2022 at 11:36 am

    As an employer I do not have to post my employees breaks and lunch schedules for the day. I do not have to let the know in writing many breaks or how long of a lunch they are getting?

  46. Chris Anderton on January 29, 2022 at 10:33 pm

    I work private security at night usually a 10 hour shift. I get paid for my breaks and my lunches. I usually don’t take them so I do not lose out on money. I like to bring my lunch but can I still sue my employer?

    Thank You

    • whatinthecock on February 11, 2022 at 8:39 pm

      boi wtf boi

    • mark on March 10, 2022 at 11:29 am

      Sadly you can. He needs to make you take your lunch breaks and if you refuse he has to make you sign a waiver.
      So yes, you can sue him.

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 10:17 pm

      That is not a lawsuit I would ever take. That would basically be fraud. I would not recommend it.

  47. María on January 27, 2022 at 5:03 pm

    If I work 5 hours I take a 10 minutes break and a 30 minutes break too? Or jus the 10 mts?

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 10:18 pm

      If you work exactly 5 hrs, then you only get a 10-minute rest break. If you work 5 hrs and 1 minute, then you also get a meal break. You have to work OVER 5 hours to be entitled to a 30-minute meal break.

  48. Brian on January 16, 2022 at 4:26 am

    I’m a surgical technician and I usually come in at 11 am and clock out at 7:30 pm.
    I am usually asked to take my meal break at 12 noon. My supervisor lets me take 45 minutes of meal break and most of the time when I get back to work, nobody gives me a break from that time till I go home at 7:30pm. How can I address this to the employers?

    • Altaf on January 23, 2022 at 11:10 am

      if you ask for 45 minutes brack then you are taking your 10 minutes brack to and you getting 5 minute extra now look on your pay check if they take half hour from your par of 45 minutes if only half hour then you good

    • YES on January 30, 2022 at 9:54 pm

      Tell them exactly that…I do not know how this has been overlooked but I need a scheduled paid break when I am here.

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 10:21 pm

      Meal breaks and rest breaks can not (in most cases) be legally combined. You have to be allowed to take your rest breaks separately from your meal breaks. If you are only permitted a single lunch break and no rest breaks while working an 8.5 hour shift, then the employer would be liable for denying you rest breaks. You should definitely address this to your employers. I strongly recommend you do it in writing – text or email – so that you have a written record just in case the employer decides to ignore your complaint, or worse, retaliate against you for making a protected complaint.

      • Monique on June 15, 2022 at 1:57 pm

        What are the exceptions that allow you to combine rest breaks? I work 10 hour shifts, and have waived my 30 min lunch break. I was combining my two breaks to have one rest break mid day, but am now being told this is not ok.

  49. Raul Duke on January 6, 2022 at 7:00 am

    Would the manditory “Clock out for lunch before the 6th hour” rule apply to a salaried employee who is clocking in and out for timekeeping purposes as required by employer ?

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 10:22 pm

      That depends on whether you are properly classified as an exempt salaried employee. If you are, then that rule does not apply to you. But if you have been misclassified, then yes, that rule does apply to you.

  50. Maria on January 5, 2022 at 10:09 am

    Im a care giver and i told my boss about my hours missing he said it was rite we take two15 minutes breaks and a a 30 minute (lunch) he told me that they don’t pay us the 15 minute lunch they take one hour of my pay check

    • Eugene Lee on April 13, 2022 at 10:24 pm

      Whether there is a violation really depends on whether you are an in-home caregiver or a caregiver at a residential care facility. In-home caregivers are not entitled to meal or rest breaks. Residential care facility caregivers are entitled to meal and rest breaks, although in certain cases, they can be required to eat meals with their patients depending on whether certain conditions are met.

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