What meal breaks are required in California?

Employers can’t expect employees to work full time without having adequate meal breaks. The law sets very specific standards for what workers are entitled to. Knowing your rights is imperative so you can ensure you’re getting what’s due to you.

California law also sets specific standards for what circumstances enable a meal break to be skipped. The skipped meal breaks must be mutually agreed upon by the employee and the employer. Employees can revoke that agreement at will so they’d have to take all required breaks again.

Shift length and industry matter

Any employee who works at least five hours is required to have a meal break of at least 30 minutes during their shift. The employee can waive this if they won’t put in more than six hours for the day.

Workers who will put in at least 10 hours for the day are required to have a second meal period of at least 30 minutes. That second meal break can be waived if the employee will work less than 12 hours. Employees can’t waive both meal breaks in the same shift if they’re working more than 10 hours.

It’s possible that there will be different guidelines for some industries. For example, individuals who work in wholesale baking and have a collective bargaining agreement have different rules. The motion picture industry also has specific exceptions.

Anyone who thinks they haven’t been given their required meal breaks should ensure they learn what they can do to get those. It’s imperative that they discuss their case with someone who knows about these laws because these matters can become complex.

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