As a worker, taking breaks is necessary for your mental and physical health. Rest helps reduce the risk of accidents, work-related injuries, illnesses and stress. However, fatigue from missed breaks could cause a person to become one of the 462 work fatalities that the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported for California.
Unfortunately, some employers may try to get employees to skip legally required rest breaks. As a California worker, you have options if an employer denies your breaks.
California’s requirements for meals and rest breaks
California law requires all nonexempt employees who work for more than five hours a day to take a 30-minute meal break and a 10-minute rest break for every four hours they work. Also, employers must pay workers during rest breaks and meal breaks. If the employer fails to provide you with these breaks, they must pay you one hour of pay at your regular rate.
What to do if your employer denies you breaks without corresponding pay
If your employer denies you breaks, the first step you can take is to speak to your supervisor and express your concerns. If your supervisor does not take the necessary steps to ensure that you get your legally required breaks, you can prepare to file a claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office.
To support your claim, you often need documentation of your skipped breaks, including the dates, times and durations. You can also supply a personal record of any conversations you had with your supervisor regarding your breaks.
Filing a claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office is a simple process that involves filling out a form online or in person and submitting it to the Labor Commission. Your employer will receive a notification, and formal proceedings will begin. Furthermore, you can also file a lawsuit if your employer owes you substantial compensation for missed breaks.
Breaks are a vital right for California workers. If your employer violates that right, the law leaves open options for you to pursue justice.