Is it legal for my employer to make me work while I’m on a meal break?

Jun 20, 2022
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Is it legal for my employer to make me work while I’m on a meal break?

Is it legal for my employer to make me work while I’m on a meal break?

In this article, we will review the laws in California regarding meal breaks. We will also discuss the exceptions to these laws and what an employee can do if they feel their employer is not following the law.

If you have any specific questions about your situation, it’s always best to speak with an experienced employment law attorney.

What are the laws in California regarding meal breaks?

The laws in California regarding meal breaks are governed by the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC). The IWC is a state agency that sets standards for working conditions in California.

There are two main types of meal breaks: rest periods and meal periods.

  • Rest periods are shorter breaks that an employer can require an employee to take during their shift. These breaks are typically 10 minutes or less.
  • Meal periods are longer breaks that an employee can take during their shift. These breaks are typically 30 minutes or more.

California law requires employers to provide employees with a 30-minute meal period if they work more than 5 hours in a day. Employers are not required to provide a rest period for employees who work less than 3.5 hours in a day.

If your employer does not allow you to take a meal break, or does not give you enough time for a proper break, they may be violating the law. You may be entitled to compensation for any lost wages or other damages.

Can an employer require an employee to work during a meal break?

No. If you are an employee in California, your employer cannot require you to work during your meal break. You are entitled to an uninterrupted 30-minute meal break if you work more than 5 hours in a day.

What if my employer only allows me a 10 or 15-minute break?

If your employer only allows you a 10 or 15-minute break, they may be violating the law. You are entitled to an uninterrupted 30-minute meal break if you work more than 5 hours in a day. You may be entitled to compensation for any lost wages or other damages.

What are the consequences for an employer if they violate the meal break laws?

If an employer violates the meal break laws, they may be subject to penalties from the Department of Labor. These penalties can include back pay, civil penalties, and criminal penalties. The employer may also be required to provide the employees with meals or breaks that comply with the law.

What can an employee do if they feel their employer is not following the law?

If an employee feels that their employer is not following the law, they can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is responsible for investigating complaints of discrimination in the workplace. If the EEOC finds that discrimination has occurred, they will take action to remedy the situation. In some cases, this may involve filing a lawsuit on behalf of the employee.

Additionally, the employee can file a private lawsuit against the employer. However, it is important to note that before an employee can file a lawsuit, they must first exhaust their administrative remedies by filing a complaint with the EEOC.

Are there any exceptions to the meal break laws in California?

Yes, there are exceptions to the meal break laws in California. Employees may waive their right to a meal break if they work less than six hours in a day, and if they work more than six hours but no more than 12 hours in a day, they may waive their right to a second meal break.

Also, employees who are working in certain occupations may be exempt from the meal break laws. Examples of these occupations include: firefighters, law enforcement officers, healthcare workers, and employees who work in food service establishments where meals are provided to customers.

California Employee Rights Law Firm

Thank you for reading this article. We hope that you have found it helpful. If you have any questions about your rights as an employee in California, or if you believe that your employer has violated the law, we encourage you to contact an experienced employment law attorney for help.

The information in this article is meant to be general information only and is not legal advice. You should consult with an attorney to get specific legal advice for your situation.