California labor law requires the provision of meal periods at certain intervals during the workday. At a minimum, if an employee is required to work for more than five hours, a meal break of at least 30 minutes must be provided. If the workday goes for 10 hours, a second meal break of the same duration is required. The first meal period may be waived by mutual agreement if the workday stops at six hours. The second meal period may be waived if the workday is limited to 12 hours, provided that the first meal period was not waived.
Employees must be relieved of all duty during the meal break or be paid for the time at their regular rates of pay. Further, on-duty meal periods are permitted only if the employee and employer agree to it in writing and the work circumstances make it nearly impossible for the employee to be completely relieved. This might be true in the case of a lone retail worker who cannot close the establishment for a meal break. In cases where an employee is required to remain on the premises for the meal break, she must be paid even if no work is performed.
Whenever employees are required to eat at their work location, the employer must provide a place for that to occur. This does not apply to construction sites, although it is required that drinking water and hand washing supplies be provided at those locations.
The time of day also has implications for meal breaks. If a shift begins or ends between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., there must be an available source of hot food and drink, or at least an ability to heat food or drink. In addition, a facility sheltered from the weather must be provided.
Any employer who does not provide the required meal periods must pay an additional one hour to the employee at her regular rate of pay.
The rules are slightly different for employees in the motion picture industry. Meal periods are required there after working for six hours, with a second meal break occurring no later than six hours after the end of the first one. Also, for work after 12 o’clock midnight, hot food and drinks must be provided, although this is not required for off-production workers who normally work after that time. Contact us today to speak to a professional wage and hour attorney in Chico.
Sacramento, CA 95821