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The laws pertaining to lunch breaks and meal breaks in California are different than those in the rest of the country. In the majority of cases, California’s state laws are much more protective of and generous to workers.

An example is with the break obligations set forth by the state of California. According to the California Chamber of Commerce, employers must authorize a 10-minute uninterrupted break for any non-exempt employee who works for more than 3.5 hours.

What are the rules surrounding this break?

Generally speaking, if you work a 8 hour day, your employer must provide you with two paid 10-minute breaks and one unpaid 30-minute lunch break. Usually, you will have one ten-minute break prior to the lunch break and one 10-minute break after the lunch break. Typically, the lunch period occurs in the middle of the working day.

However, the employer does have some wiggle room as to when the mandated breaks occur. For instance, if you are working a particularly short or long shift, your employer may schedule the meal periods and breaks differently to compensate for this. Other factors may influence when it is most practical for you to have a break.

Does my employer have to pay for the break?

Yes, your employer does have to pay you for the 10-minute required break. Additionally, the employer may not mandate how you spend your 10-minute break unless there are mitigating circumstances. In the event that your employer does not pay you for a 10-minute break period or fails to offer a break, then the employer must compensate you for an entire additional hour of work.