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. Marcetti on December 10, 2023 at 12:01 pm

    Working 9am to 7pm, I was given a meal break at 11am. I was told that because I was given a meal break within the first 6 hours, I would not be given a second meal break for my next 8 hours of work. Is that legal?

    • Eugene Lee on December 10, 2023 at 2:47 pm

      That is correct. If you are on the clock for MORE than 10 hours in a single shift, then you would be entitled to a second meal break. But in your example, you were on the clock for only 9.5 hours (assuming lunch was 30 minutes long). So the employer is correct in saying you are entitled to only one meal break.

  2. Ehtesam Shaikh on November 20, 2023 at 12:42 pm

    I work gas station, I work 1.45 pm to 10.15 pm my schedule.
    Last Saturday i work 1:45 pm to 11:55 pm because graveyard person not come on time 10:00 pm so i work late 11:55 pm. My other coworkers left 9:30 pm he start 1:00 pm to 9:30 pm. I take 30 minutes lunch break 6:14 pm end meal 6:44 pm. After i clock out 11:55 pm our system ask your miss break. Shouldn’t they be paying me miss meal break?

    • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2023 at 7:28 pm

      Since you worked from 1:45 pm to 11:55 pm, with a 30 minute lunch from 6:14 pm to 6:44 pm, that means you were on the clock for 9 hours and 40 minutes. In that case, you were entitled to only 1 meal break, and you in fact got it. I do not believe there is a meal break violation here, the employer would not owe you a meal break premium. To be entitled to a second meal break, you have to be on the clock for over 10 hours.

      One thing about the timing of your lunch: you started your lunch 4 hours and 29 minutes into your shift. That is before the end of the fifth hours. Therefore there is no late lunching violation. It appears your employer is very good about complying with the break laws.

  3. Jessie on November 14, 2023 at 7:24 am

    If an employee is clocking back in one (1) to Three (3) minutes early from their 30 minute meal break, is this a violation of the 30 minute break law?

    • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2023 at 7:31 pm

      Not so long as it’s the employee’s decision to do it, and the employer isn’t encouraging or ordering the employee to do it. You might still want to talk with an employer defense attorney though.

  4. marcella on October 24, 2023 at 2:59 pm

    I start work at 8am. I prefer taking a late lunch at 1:30 instead of 1pm. Based on CA law do I have to take my lunch at 1pm if I agree to wait until 1:30?

    • Be Dobson on November 6, 2023 at 2:03 pm


    • KC on December 5, 2023 at 2:09 pm

      ` It says “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.”

    • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2023 at 8:19 pm

      There is no late lunch violation if it was the employee’s choice, rather than forced or encouraged by the employer. However, keep in mind, it is the employer’s right to set employees’ work schedules, which includes break schedules. So you can ask the employer to accommodate your preference for a later lunch, but the employer doesn’t have to agree to it.

      By the way, in your example, starting lunch at 1 pm is technically late, as it is still after the end of the fifth hour. To be timely, lunch must be permitted to start no later than 12:59 pm, in your example.

  5. Sandy on October 24, 2023 at 9:44 am

    Should Meal Penalty be paid at the regular hourly pay rate OR at the Weighted Average OT rate when employees have multiple pay rates?

    • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2023 at 8:17 pm

      The regular hourly pay rate. The labor code section discussing meal breaks is California Labor Code Section 226.7. It states:

      “No employer shall require any employee to work during any meal or rest period mandated by an applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission. If an employer fails to provide an employee a meal period or rest period in accordance with an applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission, the employer shall pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that the meal or rest period is not provided.”

      Note the last sentence, which states “regular rate of compensation”.

  6. Carlos on October 19, 2023 at 7:18 am

    I’m a bit confused, is it okay if you’re scheduled for a work shift from 7AM to 5:30 PM, and clock out once for a 30 min. lunch break? Or are you entitled to a second lunch break but it will extend your shift to 6:00 PM.

    • LaTasha on November 21, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I work from 815am to 445pm. My employers have me taking lunch at 1130 which is way too early for me. Is that against the law to have me take lunch that early?

      • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2023 at 7:23 pm

        As long as the employer permits you to start your lunch no later than the end of the fifth hours, there would be no violation. In your case, since your shift started at 8:15 am, you must be allowed to start your lunch no later than 1:14 pm (not 1:15 pm!). Since 11:30 am is well before 1:14 pm, there is no violation. There are no laws regarding “early lunching”. Keep in mind, employers have the right to set their employees’ work schedules, and that includes break and lunch schedules. You can ask your employer to have a later lunch but the employer does not have to agree to it.

    • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2023 at 8:14 pm

      You are not entitled to a second meal break in your example. You have to be ON THE CLOCK for more than 10 hours to be entitled to a second meal break. In your example, your shift is 10.5 hours long, BUT you also clocked out once for a 30 minute meal break. That means you were on the clock for 10 hours. You get a second lunch break only if you work MORE than 10 hours. So if your example had said your shift was from 7 am to 5:31 pm, that extra minute after 5:30 means you would be entitled to a second meal break. Confusing? It certainly can be.

  7. Norms on October 17, 2023 at 7:07 am

    I work for a private school. My clock in is 7:30 am and I’m forced to take my 1st rest break at 8am because later we won’t be able to. Our 2nd break we add it on to our lunch time for the same reason. Many many times we go without either break. When a closing teacher has to leave early my boss kind of forces us to take a longer lunch so that we can stay longer at work and close for her. I’ve seen other teachers have to take 2 1/2 hour lunches. Can they do allthat?

    • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2023 at 8:25 pm

      There aren’t enough facts to tell you anything definitively. But I believe there are possible violations. For instance, you can’t combine meal breaks with rest breaks in general; a 2.5 hour lunch could be a split shift violation; going without breaks could be a violation depending on why it’s happening and who’s responsible, etc. Give us a call for a free consultation if you’d like to talk it over. (213) 992-3299.

  8. Jay on September 27, 2023 at 3:07 pm

    Can you be forced to take your 30 min break early because you’re going to left alone?
    Ex: You start at 2pm you take your 1st 10min at 4pm then you’re forced to take 30min at 530pm because you will be left alone for the next 5 hours.

    • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2023 at 8:04 pm

      A lot of people think employees must not be required to work more than 5 hours straight without a meal break. That is actually incorrect. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you are working a 10 hour shift, from 9 am to 7 pm. Note, that is not MORE than 10 hours, therefore there is no second meal break required, only one meal break is required. In this situation, an employee could be allowed to take their meal break from 12 pm to 12:30 pm, then work until 7 pm with no additional meal breaks, and there would be NO meal break violation. The employee would have worked 6.5 hours without a meal break, but there would be no violation. That is because the employee’s shift did not exceed 10 hours, so only 1 meal break was required.

      In your case, your shift was from 2 pm to 10:30 pm, with a 30 minute lunch break. That means you would be on the clock for a total of 8 hours (lunch isn’t included). You would be entitled to only 1 meal break. Moreover, your lunch break started on time as it was before the end of the fifth hour. So there is no late lunching violation either.

      Keep in mind, the employer has the right to set your work schedule, including your break schedule. I don’t believe there is any violation by the employer in your case. The employer is wrong that you can’t work for 5 hours straight without a meal break, but then again, that is not a violation.

  9. Nils on September 22, 2023 at 3:02 pm

    Hi I work in a restaurant in which I am frequently scheduled for 6.5hr shifts, my company provides 35 minute lunches, and says that because I wasnt on the clock for over 6 hrs I only get one 10min break. Is this legal?

    • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2023 at 8:09 pm

      Yes, the employer is technically correct. Your shift has to be more than 6 hours for you to be entitled to a second rest break.

  10. Julie on September 3, 2023 at 6:01 pm

    I clocked in a 9 a.m. and was told to break at 9:15 a.m. (19 minutes from starting work). Is this legal.

    • Gabriel on September 14, 2023 at 9:27 am

      I start at 9AM am forced to take my lunch at 12PM. Then work a straight five hour shift with no scheduled break how is this legal?

      • Miranda on September 21, 2023 at 11:27 am

        It’s not. You legally have the right to take a PAID 10 minute break after your 4th hour. So if you’re back to work at 12:30 pm then you should be requesting your 10 minute break at 4:30pm regardless if you only have half an hour left of your shift.

  11. Evan on August 26, 2023 at 10:02 pm

    18 years old and don’t know much about these laws. I live in Los Angeles California. Ok so I work 7 hours and 30 minutes. I know that I get a paid 10 and a unpayed 30. My employers or how ever you spell it like to make me take my 30 minute meal break 20 minutes into my shift. I start working at 2pm and end at 9:30. I normally eat at around 12pm. And I never eat. Is there any way that I can force my hand to eat at a later time. Thanks to anyone willing to help me with this question.

    • annonymous on September 12, 2023 at 10:00 pm

      Almost same situation, but a school district. shift is less than 5 hours, being forced to clock out after the fourth hour, they said its school district policy, is this true and is the law different for schools?

      • Robin on September 20, 2023 at 10:16 am

        If you are at a school district with a union, check with your union leaders. Specific rules about hours, breaks and lunch will be in your contract.

  12. Alejandra perez on August 26, 2023 at 3:29 pm

    Are we entitled to any pay if we work more then 6hrs with no breaks at all ? And would that be considered OT after the 6hrs or a 1 hour granted

    • Daniel on September 6, 2023 at 9:36 am

      You are entitled to at least 2 breaks if working more than 6 hours in a day. If your employer is having you skip your mandated 10-minute breaks, then they owe you one hour of meal break premium paid at your regular rate. OT in california is any work after 8 hours or any hours after 40 in a week (whichever is higher).

      • Bee on September 9, 2023 at 12:26 pm

        False. You are only entitled to two breaks when you work 8 hours. It’s stated in the first paragraph on this page.

        “You are also entitled to a 10-minute uninterrupted, duty-free rest breaks for every 4 hours you work (or “major fraction” thereof).”

        • April on September 26, 2023 at 9:13 pm

          Not true it’s over 6 hours

        • Robert on November 13, 2023 at 10:31 am

          You are interpretting that sentence wrong.

          “You are also entitled to a 10-minute uninterrupted, duty-free rest breaks for every 4 hours you work (or “major fraction” thereof).”

          or major fraction thereof is the part you seem to be missing.

          after two hours you are working for the bigger fraction of the 4 hour time period. So first 4 hours you get a break for, and then the second 2 hours would also qualify you for a break.

          • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2023 at 7:34 pm

            Robert, you are correct. The California Supreme Court actually spent some time discussing “major fraction thereof” in Brinker v Superior Court, concluding that rest breaks are earned after 3.5 hours, 6 hours and 10 hours worked. Most people think rest breaks are earned after 4 hours, 8 hours and 12 hours worked, but that ignores “major fraction thereof”.

  13. Brian on August 15, 2023 at 3:12 pm

    I run a restaurant. Our shifts run 5 to 8 hours and we constantly have employees asking to waive their meal periods. Specifically for those shifts scheduled more than 6 hours and up to 8 hours. Can we accept an agreed meal waiver OR is it only applicable to shifts scheduled less than 8 hours?

    • John on November 2, 2023 at 6:56 am

      The only meal periods that can be waived in this case are meals that are required (shifts longer than 5 hours) AND the shift is 6 hours or less. An employee cannot waive a meal if they work 6 hours and 10 minutes. The meal/rest period also has to have started prior to the 5th hour of work. So if you start your shift at noon you must start your ‘lunch’ by no later that 5:00 or there is a penalty. If the employee is scheduled to be off at 6 they can waive their ‘lunch’, but if the employee works a few minutes late to 6:05 then the ‘lunch’ was required and the employer has violated the law. The best approach is to not have shifts of 6 hours at all and have either 0-5 or 7-8 hour shifts to avoid this possibility.

      • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2023 at 7:54 pm

        I totally agree with John. Just one minor correction: in his example, if the shift starts at 12 pm, the lunch break must be permitted to start by no later than 4:59 pm. At 5 pm, there would be a ‘late lunching’ violation. Meal breaks must be permitted to start no later than the END of the fifth hour. At 5 pm, the fifth hour would already have ended, and the sixth hour would already have started. Very technical, I know, but that is the law.

  14. Jeff P on August 12, 2023 at 4:53 pm

    My employer since they started to allow WFH has not allowed us to take a lunch break anytime we work on site. Hours are 2-10pm with no lunch. I dont want to loose my job and I dont want to get anyone in trouble but I know this is not right and with my employer speaking about taking WFH privileges I think i should be reporting them for these meal violations

  15. Angel on August 9, 2023 at 7:20 am

    If a California truck driver is hired to do work in Colorado (solely), does the driver still have to comply with the California meal and rest break law?

  16. Yvette Seekatz on August 7, 2023 at 12:00 pm

    When I read this statement “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”. The end of your fifth hour would be 5 hour 59 minutes. It also states that you are in a meal violation if you dont take your meal meal break with in 4 hours and 59 minutes. That would be before your fifth hour. I understand you can waive the meal if your shift in total is not over 6 hours. However an 8 hour shift starting at 7a.m. am I required to clock out 11:59 or 12:59 to avoid the meal penalty? The verbiage is confusing.

    • Sandra on August 10, 2023 at 7:01 pm

      You would clock out at 12:59 or 1pm exactly.

      • Yvette Seekatz on August 22, 2023 at 7:44 am

        The above calculator says I have to take my meal break at 12pm not 1 pm

        • Ash on August 30, 2023 at 11:35 pm

          You have to take your meal before 12pm if you’re working more than 6 hours. If you’re working exactly 6 or less hours you just have to make sure to clock out for the day by 1pm, to avoid a meal violation if you signed the meal waver.

    • john on September 22, 2023 at 12:13 am

      Hi Yvette. I can understand how you got confused. 5 hours 59 minutes and 4 hours 59 minutes are not the same thing, so how does that work? Allow me to explain.

      When you clock in, you have worked 0 hours 0 minutes. 59 minutes later is the end of your first hour. Your second hour starts at 1 hour and 0 minutes from your clock in time. This trend continues, Your fifth hour starts 4 hours and 0 minutes from your clock in time, and ends 4 hours 59 minutes from your clock in time.

      5 hours 59 minutes from your clock in time is actually the end of your sixth hour, and then your 7th hour starts at 6 hours 59 minutes from your clock in time.

      After 8 hours from your clock in time, you’ve worked 8 hours. If 5 hours 59 minutes from your clock in time was the end of your 5th hour, then 8 hours 59 minutes would be the end of your eighth hour. Well, that wouldn’t make any sense because you only have to work 8 hours to get paid for 8 hours, not 8 hours 59 minutes.

      Does that make sense? I think it’s possible you’ve been told 5 hours and 59 minutes by an incompetent HR team. It happens all the time.

      • john on September 22, 2023 at 2:54 pm

        * 5 hours 59 minutes from your clock in time is actually the end of your sixth hour, and then your 7th hour starts at 6 hours 0 minutes from your clock in time.

        Sorry! Careless typo.

  17. Sage on July 26, 2023 at 6:59 am

    I just started at a bakery job and they had me working 7-8am to 2-3pm and i got a single 15 minute break at 11am. I like the atmosphere but no one else complains and it’s a pretty laid back place. It just hurts to stand for that long straight as well as 15 minutes doesnt let me go anywhere or get any food. They offer some in house but the amount of cross contamination is concerning. Again i dont wanna wreck their buissness but i’ve seen no one get a meal break.

    (If it means anything im still in training)

  18. Nathaniel Freund on July 9, 2023 at 10:00 am

    If they work from 12pm to 6:15pm, an employee is required to take a paid 10-minute rest period and an unpaid 30 minute meal break.
    But if 6hrs 15min is the length of the shift, but only 5hrs 15min is paid time, is this employee required to have a 2nd paid 10-minute rest period?

  19. Liliana on July 5, 2023 at 2:12 pm

    We don’t have clocks to tell when our 10 minute break is so they call it out and they let us know when there is 8 minutes left so we have 2 minutes to walk back or to wrap whatever it is we’re doing to head back to work. Can they interrupt us during our basically 8 minute uninterrupted break?

  20. Liliana on July 5, 2023 at 2:07 pm

    Can my operations manager asked me to clock back in after being clocked out and threating to give me a write up if I didn’t?

    Is it a requirement in a workplace to have clocks to tell the time besides the clock in stations?

    I have to walk about 10 minutes to my designated work station besides me waiting another 5 minutes to get through security, and they don’t allow us to clock in in the nearest time clock area because its supposedly “stealing company time” but we have to go through all that even if we’re on time, we’re late. Is that even okay to do?

    I mentioned to the people responsible to change shifts that I don’t like communicating with a specific opts manager because I don’t feel comfortable talking to due to past harassment but Instead I said” I bumped heads with him before so I don’t feel comfortable going up to him and letting him know” and he said “well that’s in every working environment you just have to work with it, it’s work.” what do I do with that?

  21. Stephan M. on June 26, 2023 at 1:10 pm

    My CA company requires we click on a pop-up box, when we are submitting our online time cards, stating that if we work through breaks or lunches it’s voluntary and completely up to us. We are not able to submit our time cards unless we agree to that statement. If we disagree, there is a separate statement that says we can send an email to HR. I did this way back in 2011 because I am at the mercy of customers and tasks that rarely allowed me to take my breaks and lunches on time (if at all). I sent an email, and never received a reply from HR. I was schedulde for 12 hour shifts, and nobody told me that I was entitled to a second break or one hour pay if I didn’t get it. Now that they laid me off, they are hiding behind the 3yr statute of limitations and saying that I acknowledged receipt of our 300 page employee handbook, which, allegedly, contained the rules.

    Note to everyone – take your breaks and report violations, regardless of how much you might admire your company – they will take advantage of you every chance they get. Oh, and fully read ANY document that they ask you to acknowledge receipt of – it’s for their protection, not yours.

  22. Desiree on June 6, 2023 at 8:13 pm

    This is all so confusing. And I can find different answers on many sites. I work in a restaurant usually 5-7 hours can I waive my 30 minute break? Because I’m one paragraph it says it’s the employees responsibility to take a break if it’s not taken oh well. And it also says you can take your break any time it doesn’t have to be before the 5th hour. HELP ! Another question does the restaurant get fined or in trouble if employees don’t clock out before their 5th hour if working more than 6 hours?

    • Eddy on June 10, 2023 at 12:45 am

      The article answers your questions:
      Yes, you can waive your meal break, if you and your employer agree to do so.
      Your employer doesn’t have to force you to take a meal break, but they can’t force you to waive your meal break, either. Does that make sense? If your employer is preventing you from taking a break against your wishes, then that would be against the law and you can sue them for that.

      For your question about the 5th hour, the article says that it is against the law for your employer to prevent you from taking your MEAL break before the end of the 5th hour. But if you made the decision yourself not to take that break, then it’s fine. These kinds of uncommon situations, as the article mentioned, you want to have in writing, so that you don’t end up in a courtroom full of “he said, she said” arguments. As far as I know, I don’t think your employer would get in trouble if you don’t clock out, but they can get in trouble if they don’t provide the meal break. I don’t see anything in this article that says your employer is required to make you clock in and out. However, I suspect that many employers have an incentive to have their employees clock in and out because that is their proof that they gave you a break as required by law.

      • Jaimie on September 7, 2023 at 10:59 am

        My restaurant employer just makes us put breaks in for ourselves, even though we don’t get them. They threaten us with write ups if we don’t go back and add a break and if we say we didnt get one they write us up. Most of us when we get in, clock in and then immediately clock for a break and start working so we dont get punished for a 5th hour break violation and use each other’s clock in code for whoever is not on break. As for 10 minute breaks I’ve never heard of them in a restaurant. Most of the time I can’t even leave my section to run to the bathroom.

      • Eugene Lee on December 14, 2023 at 8:33 pm

        Eddy has got it right. Just one thing, employers are generally required to keep accurate, contemporaneous records of meal punchouts/punchins. That requirement is contained in Labor Code section 226 as well as in the California Wage Orders. Moreover, failure to keep legally compliant meal punch records creates a rebuttable presumption against the employer that meal breaks violations have occurred. See Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC (2021) 275 Cal.Rptr.3d 422 as well as the “Werdegar Presumption” in Brinker Rest. Corp. v. Superior Ct., (2012) 53 Cal. 4th 1004, 1053. Finally, in the absence of accurate time records, employees are permitted to rely on their recollections and estimates when prosecuting labor code violations. See Cicairos v. Summit Logistics, Inc. (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 949, 961 (“[W]here the employer has failed to keep records required by statute, the consequences for such failure should fall on the employer, not the employee.” (quoting Hernandez v. Mendoza (1988) 199 Cal.App.3d 721, 727).

        So there is definitely a heavy duty requirement for the employer to keep accurate time records, including for meal breaks.

  23. Casper on June 1, 2023 at 3:40 pm

    I work for a major company and in a 10 hour work day they give us 2 – 15 minutes for a total of 30 minutes a day working in California. So my question is on the break we get 2 1/2 minutes to walk out to our car or the break room 10 minutes for a break and 2 1/2 minutes to get back on the floor for a meeting after every break. Is the walk considered part of our break because they say it is.

    • Eddy on June 10, 2023 at 12:53 am

      According to this article, you are required to have a two 10-minute rest breaks in a 10-hour workday. Therefore, your employer is providing you 5 minutes more than the legal requirement if they are giving you 15-minute rest breaks. You didn’t state whether you are also receiving a meal break. In a 10-hour workday, you should receive one 30-minute meal break and two 10-minute rest breaks, and they must all be separate of each other. So you should receive 3 breaks in total before your workday is done. Also be aware that your employer is not allowed to, for example, take your 30-minute meal break and split it into two 15-minute parts, and that is why I made an assumption at the beginning of my answer that the 15-minute breaks your employer is providing you with are rest breaks and not meal breaks. I hope this is true.

  24. Bre on May 28, 2023 at 6:56 pm

    I am a graveyard manager who is training one person and has another that I’m still training I asked. For more help and am told that I have enough people.It is a Memorial Day weekend and we will be busy I’m scared if I close part of the business I will be let go buf it is just very stressful.I can not take any breaks because I have nobody to cover me for them so I work my whole shift without one but when I lock at clock sheet on the app it shows that u was clocked out as if I did take one.

  25. Sarah Norberg on May 13, 2023 at 2:26 am

    For graveyard / night shift employees at 24 hour facilities like Short Term Residential Facilities STRF / mental health for youth under Community Care Licensing in CA, we waived our meal break as a condition of employment as we need to provide client supervision continuously, including all night.

    What I am not clear on is whether being in a STRF means also forfeiting the two ten minute breaks as a consequence as well – it would make sense needing to provide constant supervision, *but* when we have the coverage for someone else like a float employee to relieve you to take a break, couldn’t we still take two ten minute breaks? Can we stack the two ten minute breaks back to back if so as twenty minutes? I am pretty sure they are supposed to be separate but yes it’s very unclear to me if we could still take two 10 minute breaks when coverage of someone else relieving you to provide the needed supervision, therefore allows for it or not.

  26. Kevin on May 12, 2023 at 11:56 am

    I pay my employees for at least 8 hours every shift, but sometimes they only work 5-6 hours. If they end up working less than 6 hours, do I still need to provide a meal break since I am paying them for 8?

  27. Yolanda Cruz on May 9, 2023 at 9:28 am

    I’m an hourly employee, I want to voluntarily waive my 30 minute meal break so that I’m only at work and away from home 8 hours and not 8.5 hours. Is there a meal waiver or agreement I can make with my employer so that neither one of us is violating a labor law?

    • Dawn on July 12, 2023 at 1:18 pm

      Yolanda you cannot waive your first/only meal period. If you are scheduled to work 6 hours or less then there is a meal waiver available

  28. Sally Mae on May 6, 2023 at 5:38 pm

    If I worked 12 hours and took my lunch before the 5th hour, and decide to waive my second lunch, does this mean I get paid an additional 30 min for the second lunch I waived?

  29. Mark on May 5, 2023 at 7:30 am

    So, if you’re not given any 10 mins breaks in a 12 hr work shift, is that a 1 hr penalty per 10 mins break not given or is it a 1 hr penalty for all 10 mins breaks not given..?

  30. Cynthia Myers on May 4, 2023 at 12:52 am

    I am a health worker in a ER in CA. We go to work at 7 pm and are usually very busy until around midnight with patients. I am the lead person on shift and can not leave a less qualified person to deal with all problems that might occur. I have no one that comes to relieve me and cover my responsibilities (must be certified and competent to break) and feel that I can not leave my area for breaks or meals. What are my options. I have felt pressured to put down breaks in times that are wanted whether it is true or not, just write it in. I’m ok with this but now they are requiring that we sign a “Break and Meal declaration” form for each pay period. It is a requirement and not asked. I am not going to sign a form that states that I am declaring “under perjury ” that I was providing all the rest periods and meal periods thatI was legally entitled to. I realize that I am putting my job on the line. I may get fired, but I will not purger myself. I was previously ok with the pressure to put down a 30 min lunch break in the times that they wanted me to, but not now that I am having to sign this form. What do I do?!

    • Scott on May 22, 2023 at 12:20 am

      Speak with you union rep, Im sure your concerns are covered by the CBA.

  31. RICH on April 26, 2023 at 4:30 pm

    I’m a non exempt manager of a retail store, we are understaffed and overworked, there’s no time for me to take a lunch, constant customers to take care of. This has been going on for 3 plus years, where I can’t take a uninterrupted lunch. Upper management said it’s fine I work through my lunch. But someone has mentioned this is against CA law and I’m entitled to my break everyday. Can I sue my company and make them audit 3 plus years of time cards to see how how many lunches I missed? I have an email from upper management saying I missed 20 lunch breaks just in one month.

  32. Heidi on April 16, 2023 at 8:40 am

    Is it legal for my employer to make me take my lunch break one hour after starting my shift? My shift is 7 hours.

    • Melody on April 19, 2023 at 4:15 pm

      I’m experiencing the same problem

      • Justin on May 16, 2023 at 12:05 am


    • Melissa Black on April 25, 2023 at 3:13 am

      I have the same question. I work an 8 hr shift. The 1st hr is with another employee then I’m by myself. My manager told me that I need to clock in @ the scheduled time then 5 min later clock out for brk then after 30 min to clock back in. My issue is then I have to go 7 hrs plus without a break. I’m curious if that’s even legal

  33. Lenden M on April 11, 2023 at 1:15 pm

    If I start at 8am, 1pm is the 5th hour for lunch. so what time is the latest that I can take lunch.

    • Ash on May 2, 2023 at 12:03 pm

      12:59pm the absolute latest. If you clock out at 1pm you are too late.

  34. Naomi on March 20, 2023 at 9:59 am

    At the beginning of my employment, I signed a meal waiver form to be good for the entire length of employment. My understanding was that I would still get to take breaks it just didn’t have to be on the exact time frame and if I didn’t want to at all that was fine but if I want to, they still have to let me, right? Am I still entitled to take acbreak or can they refuse it because I signed the form?

  35. Maria on March 19, 2023 at 9:06 am

    I am an exempt employee in an administrative office position. Am I required to take a meal break if requested by my supervisor or can I work eight hours straight? Am I required to work overtime if requested by my supervisor?

  36. marisol jimenez on March 17, 2023 at 10:41 am

    Can I sleep during my 30 minute lunch in california or it against the law?

  37. Kevin Severe on March 8, 2023 at 6:04 pm

    I work a 7 hour shift with a 30 min break and 1 15 minute break. I then have 1 and a half hours off and work again for another 5 hours. Do I get a second break and a second lunch?

  38. Rick on March 7, 2023 at 3:20 pm

    I am driving a truck for a company. They pay me $200 for 8 hrs work($25 hr) but, I often workn10 hrs a day in which they pay me $250. Shouldn’t they be paying me overtime?
    Thank You!

  39. An on March 3, 2023 at 1:53 am


    I have a unique situation. My work has approve my accommodation for work from my doctored note for my chronic medical illness. My work approved me to work 5 hours a day.. and if i take additional breaks then I must clock out. I just want your opinion. In the past my work says if i take multiple breaks to use the restroom because I have a overactive bladder.. i had a doctors note for that as well and the supervisor had to approve that I am okay with going to the restroom but i must clock out to do so.

  40. Angela RN on February 27, 2023 at 7:29 am

    I’m a nurse and have a question on this break/meal stuff. I work a 12 hour shift (7pm to 7am). I’ve waived my 2nd meal break. What I really want to know is do we absolutely HAVE to take our meal break before 1am (which would be the 6th hour)? or can we just agree with our employer to take it when we’re ready? And still be in compliance.

    Most of us at my place of employment don’t want to go to lunch that early. We’re not hungry at that point for 1. And we’re usually still busy with tasks until about midnight.

    Thanks for any clarification you can give on this.

    • Vanessa on April 8, 2023 at 10:47 pm

      Hi Angela, did you figure out the answer to this? Wondering because they are also implementing this to us as well. They’re doing15min breaks starting at 8pm…. this directly affects patient care. To top it off, they are making us take 30min breaks also before midnight. Then 15 and 15 after… which is hardly a break.

    • Mary Ann Jennison on June 30, 2023 at 2:37 pm

      That 1st meal break has to be taken no later than 4 hours 59 minutes unless you work less than 6
      hours in the day. If you clock out before 6 hours you can skip the meal break.

  41. Naomi on February 25, 2023 at 12:38 am

    I’ve never taken or been sent on a rest break in 6 years I take an hour lunch no pay and work 8 hrs my employer said we’re allowed to have a break whenever we like no need to put on the schedule have someone delegate you to do so no need to record it on my time sheet . I really don’t know when is ok to just go so I don’t .

  42. Nancy on February 22, 2023 at 10:35 pm

    I work as a security guard , we get paid for 8 hours but do not get a meal break or 2 10 min breaks .
    We can eat while working . Is this a violation

  43. BN on February 15, 2023 at 10:48 am

    I work an hourly shift for six hours let’s say
    How many 10 minute breaks am I allowed to have?
    If I work 12pm-630pm how many breaks am I supposed to have with my lunch?

    • Jim on March 12, 2023 at 7:42 am

      If I’m scheduled for 5 1/2 hours entitled to one break and 1/2 hour lunch or not.
      If I was scheduled for six hours entitled to one break and 1/2 hour lunch.
      I was told that if I have a six hour shift, I am only entitled to either one break or one lunch but not both?

    • Lisa Culp on December 9, 2023 at 12:24 am

      Did you ever get an answer for this?

  44. Heather on February 15, 2023 at 5:29 am

    If my regular shift is 7:30a-4-:30pm and I start work T 6am to work overtime, is my first break at 8am or at 9:30am?

  45. Shannon RN, CCRN on February 4, 2023 at 8:52 am

    I am looking for clarification. I am an ICU RN working 12 hour shifts. I waive my second meal break. When should my meal break be taken so that it’s not considered late? My employer stated that my meal break isn’t considered late until after the 10th hour. Is this factual? Every hospital I’ve worked at prior to this has made me take my meal break before the 6th hour. Thanks in advance.

  46. Monica on January 19, 2023 at 8:07 am

    Clocking in and out for meal breaks: We work in a very busy office. When the office staff clocks in and out for work we use a face recognition time clock. (big pain sometimes it takes many times to final be recognized) We were told by the owner for lunch we can hand write our clocking in and out for for lunch on a time card. The HR department is telling us we can’t do that. She said it is illegal and if a few people are doing it has to be approved for everyone otherwise the HR and manager can personally get sued. IS THIS TRUE???

    Where can I find information on 2023 PTO. Some employees PTO time is being deducted. I am pretty sure we are being screwed on this too.

  47. Joanne McFall on January 18, 2023 at 8:30 pm

    I am an Asst manager at a 24 hr convenience store and on occasion I am required to work a graveyard shift that starts at 10pm and I am scheduled until 6am but it’s very rare that happens. I am not given a meal or breaks due to the fact I am by myself.

    I am compensated as follows
    $17/hr for 10pm-12am
    $18/hr for 12pm-4am
    $17/hr for 4am-6am

    For the hrs I work past 8 hours they are reporting as straight time claiming it’s not OT.

    I feel I should be paid:
    $17/hr for 4hr
    $18/hr for 4hr
    $17.50 for 1hr do to no meal break
    $26.25 for any time worked after 6am if I start at 10pm.

    Can you please clarify this for me.

    • Tommy Gunn on January 30, 2023 at 1:23 pm

      The reason i see for two different wages is due to a rate premium, 12-4am may be $1.00 more per hour. It actually should be $18. for the lunch penalty due to that was your wage during your the required time slot for your lunch break,(before your 5th hour). Totaling 9 hours for the shift. if you work over your shift time it should be at time and a half of $25.50 due to the fact there is no shift differential. Hope this helps. Tommygunn….

  48. Tyrone Onyegbulem on January 17, 2023 at 11:05 am

    10:33 AM
    Our “tour of duty” 7am to 1930 (730pm). one 30min meal period and four 10 minute breaks.
    They proposed we get two 30 min breaks but that would extend our tour of duty to 2000 (8pm). If we wanted to leave at 730 we would have to waive one meal period. Please clarify

  49. Miriam Fredrickson on January 11, 2023 at 11:15 am

    I work a 8-5pm work shift as an except office admin in OC, do I get breaks, OT?

  50. Corinne on January 7, 2023 at 9:21 pm

    I work in a hospital where the staffing ratio is 4:1 in my department . If there are more than four patients there has to be two nurses working the floor. My question is who’s responsibility is it to find the second nurse to cover me while I take my break? Or can I clock out for a break leaving the other nurse with more than four patients for 30 minutes? It’s usually quite difficult finding another nurse to cover breaks and I usually don’t get my breaks.

    • CEE on February 3, 2023 at 3:17 pm

      Another nurse should be covering lunch breaks- and it is the responsibility of the scheduler/ employer to do that. If they expect employees to follow their policy 4:1, then they have to make sure they facilitate everyone can follow the same standard- meaning providing coverage with a floating nurse that can cover everyone’s lunch breaks for the duration of the shift. I would discuss with direct supervisor and if no reasonable solution is found – email HR Department.

      What is the meal break law for healthcare in California?

      With the passage of S.B. 1334, if public-sector and UC hospitals fail to provide meal and break coverage, they will be required to pay the employee for the missed meal and/or break, thereby creating an incentive to prioritize safe staffing.

Leave a Comment