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What meal periods are required in California?

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2022 | Wage and Hour Laws |

California is known for being an employee-friendly state. The laws in effect protect employees in a host of ways. For most workers in this state, meal periods are an important part of the workday. 

Employers sometimes try to skirt the law, but employees who know their rights can ensure they’re followed. These are some basic things to know about meal periods in California:

How long are meal periods?

For the most part, a worker who has a five-hour shift must have one meal period of at least 30 minutes. A second meal period is required for those who work at least 10 hours. It’s possible for certain employees to waive a meal period. 

For example, a person who works up to six hours in a shift can waive their meal period. Someone who works 10 to 12 hours in a shift can waive one of their two required meal periods. 

Do you have to work during meal periods?

Employees who must stay on duty while they eat must be paid for their time. Some examples of this include lone security guards or kiosk workers who don’t have anyone to relieve them while they eat. 

If the meal period is unpaid, an employer can’t even force you to stay on the premises. Instead, you must be free to do what you want to do – because that time belongs to you.

Making sure you get the breaks you’re due is crucial to workers. When an employer doesn’t give you the breaks you’re due, you may be entitled to compensation for your lost wages and the abuse of your rights as an employee.