Working numerous hours a day often proves tiring. Though you may enjoy your work, you likely enjoy down time and the ability to take a break when necessary. Unfortunately, some workers may have their rights violated if employers do not comply with employment laws relating to meal and rest breaks. Certain stipulations apply to requirements relating to employers providing breaks.
Under California state law, employers should provide a 30 minute meal break if you work more than five hours a day. If your work day does not exceed six hours, you could potentially waive your meal break. However, you and your employer must mutually agree to this arrangement, and your employer cannot simply take away your break without your consent.
If you work more than 10 hours in a workday, your employer must provide a second 30 minute meal break. Though – as with a 6 hour work day – you could waive your second meal break if you do not work more than 12 hours and come to a mutual agreement with your employer. However, in order to waive your second meal break, you must have taken your first meal break.
Your employer must also relieve you of your work duties during your meal breaks unless the nature of the work makes such an arrangement implausible. However, you must come to an on-duty meal agreement. Additionally, on-duty meals count as work time, and your employer must provide proper compensation.
An important note: An employer is not obligated to make sure that you or other workers take their provided breaks.
In addition to meal breaks, state law also accounts for general rest breaks. For each four-hour period worked, you should have the opportunity for one 10-minute break. Ideally, the break would come in the middle of the work period. If less than three hours and 30 minutes make up the work time, the 10-minute break is not required. Employers should also provide compensation during this break.
Unfortunately, some workers may find themselves forced to work through long hours without having meal or rest breaks. If you did not voluntarily give up these breaks and created no agreement with your employer about waiving break times, you may have cause to pursue legal action against your employer for violating your rights.
You have the right to ensure that your employer follows proper employment law regulations. If you feel the need to file a legal claim due to violations, you may wish to consult with an experienced attorney who could assist you in correcting any wrongdoing.