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How much time do I have to give my employees for meal and rest breaks in California?

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This is a regular question employers have in California.  California dictates that a 30-minute uninterrupted meal period generally must be provided if a nonexempt employee works more than five (5) hours in a work day. The meal period must be provided no later than the end of the employee’s fifth hour of work. If an employee works more than 10 hours, he or she is entitled to a second uninterrupted 30-minute meal period. The second meal period must be provided no later than the end of the employee’s tenth hour of work.  The second meal period can be waived with the employee’s consent.   

Rest periods or “breaks” must be provided at the rate of 10 consecutive uninterrupted “net” minutes for each four hours worked (or major fraction thereof, which is defined as any amount of time over two hours). A rest break need not be authorized for employees whose total daily work time is less than three and one-half (3.5) hours.  

Here’s the breakdown for rest periods –  

If an employee works a shift from three and one-half (3.5) to six (6) hours in length, the employee will be entitled to one (1) 10-minute rest break. If the employee works more than six (6) hours and up to 10 hours, the employee will be entitled to two (2) 10-minute rest breaks. If the employee works more than 10 hours and up to 14 hours, the employee will be entitled to three (3) 10-minute rest breaks. For shifts in excess of 14 hours, the employee will continue to be entitled to additional paid 10-minute rest breaks for every four (4) hours worked, or major fraction thereof. 

For each workday an employer fails to provide an employee a meal or rest period as required, the employee is owed one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate.  

Some questions you may be asking on this topic – How do I manage this process with my employees?  How do I enforce this with them?  How do I develop a company policy on this?  How do I train my employees?  Bizhaven, who represents the finest HR outsourcing solution can manage this process for you.  Contact us today at [email protected] / 916-409-7677 

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