Meal period laws in California can be confusing since the regulations tend to change annually. Employees used to take a lunch break after working for six hours. After the Labor Code Section 512 passed, workers were permitted to take a lunch break after working five hours. While Labor Code Section 512 applies to the state of California, cities in the state also have separate regulations. Since there are several laws in place concerning this issue, it is crucial that workers talk to their local labor boards to ensure that employees are properly following meal break laws.
What is considered a meal period?
A meal period is only official if a worker is relieved of all work-related duties during the meal period. If an employee is working during their lunch break, the meal period is classified as “on duty.” This means that employers have to compensate the worker at their regular pay rate if they are working while on break. If an employer does not provide a break period that is in compliance with the IWC order, they must pay the worker. The additional hour of pay does not count toward overtime. This information must be implemented in the workplace to avoid wage disputes.
A breakdown of meal periods
Workers have to receive a lunch break if they work more than five hours, in addition to a 10-minute break every four hours. The State of California Department of Industrial Relations asserts that employers are not allowed to force an employee to work for over five hours a day without giving the employee a lunch break of at least 30 minutes.
Speak to an experienced California attorney to find more about wage disputes and to determine whether you are eligible to file a settlement and receive compensation.