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What should I know about California lunch breaks?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2020 | Wage And Hour Violations

California is somewhat unique in that it does have laws on the books related to required breaks for employees. In the majority of states as well as federally, there are no requirements for this. 
However, California is different. According to the state of California, in the event that a non-exempt employee works more than 5 hours in a day they must receive a lunch or meal break that is, at minimum, 30 minutes. 
Do I have to work during my lunch break? 

In the vast majority of cases, your employer cannot require you to work during this 30-minute mandated lunch break. Essentially, this break can have nothing to do with work at all if it is to fall within legal parameters. If you are eating lunch at your desk and answering work-related emails, for example, this is not permitted. 
However, there are some exceptions to this. For example, if you happen to be a security guard and the only one on duty, your employer can mandate that you stay on call while you are on your meal break. Alternatively, in some situations, the employee may provide a waiver in writing that states they can be on call during the meal break. 
What about rest breaks? 
If the employee is working fewer than 5 hours, the employer must give them a 10 minute rest break for every four hours of work. In the event that the employee is working 10 or more hours, the employee may take two 30 minute meal period breaks. 
It is also possible for an employee who is working more than 5 hours but no more than 6 hours to waive their 30-minute lunch break if they desire. 

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