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What should you do if your employer refuses to give you breaks?

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2024 | Employment Law

In California, labor laws strictly protect the rights of workers, including the right to rest and meal breaks during work hours. If your employer is not providing these legally mandated breaks, it is important to know what steps you can take to address this issue.

Know your rights

California law requires employers to provide specific breaks based on the number of hours you work. If you work more than five hours in a day, you are entitled to a 30-minute meal break. If you work more than ten hours, you should receive a second meal break. For every four hours of work, you should also have a 10-minute rest break. These breaks must be duty-free, and employers cannot ask you to work during these times.

Document the violations

Start by keeping detailed records of your work schedule and the breaks (or lack thereof) that you receive. Note the times you start and end your work, as well as any break times you are given. This documentation can serve as evidence of the missed breaks.

Speak to your employer

Sometimes, the issue can be a result of a misunderstanding or oversight by your employer. Approach your employer or HR department to discuss the situation. When you talk to them, be calm and professional. Explain the specific instances where you did not receive your required breaks, and remind them of the state laws regarding rest and meal breaks.

Reach out to HR or a higher authority

If discussing the issue directly with your supervisor does not lead to any changes, consider bringing the matter up with your Human Resources department. HR can often intervene and provide the necessary guidance to your supervisor or directly address the policy enforcement.

File a complaint with the labor board

If internal efforts fail and your employer continues to deny you your legally mandated breaks, you can file a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office. This state agency enforces labor laws and can investigate your claim. Filing a complaint can initiate a process where your workplace will be scrutinized for compliance with labor laws.

In California, the law is on the side of the employees when it comes to mandated breaks. If your employer refuses to give you these breaks, it is important to stand up for your rights. Remember, you have the right to receive appropriate breaks to rest and eat during your workday.

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