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Meal and Rest Period Pay

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Questions on laws for meal (lunch) and rest periods (breaks)? Goyette & Associates has answers.

Under the federal FLSA law, neither unpaid meal (lunch) periods nor paid rest periods (breaks) are required. Under CA wage law, however, a meal period (lunch) of at least 30 minutes of unpaid time must be provided any time work shifts of six hours or more are worked by employees.

For work shifts of between five and six hours, the same meal period (lunch) is required unless employees voluntarily waive the meal period in writing. In addition, paid ten-minute rest periods (breaks) must be provided under CA wage law for every four hours worked. So, for a standard eight-hour work shift, one unpaid meal period (lunch) of thirty minutes or more, and two ten minute paid rest periods (breaks) must be provided.

If any of the required meal (lunch) or rest periods (break) are not provided, the employer faces paying the employee one hour of straight time pay for each missed meal (lunch) or rest period (break). A meal (lunch) or rest period (break) is considered ‘missed’ if each meal or rest period is not ‘uninterrupted’ time during which no work is performed. Even when no work is performed, meal or rest period can be considered ‘missed’ if employees are ‘on call’ to perform work; for example, if employees are not allowed to leave the employer’s premises for meal periods, to engage in any personal pursuits they choose, the meal period may be considered ‘missed’ and become compensable time.

It is the employer’s duty to keep a written record of meal periods; no record of rest period has to be kept.

If you are an employee or an employer with specific questions regarding meal (lunch) or rest period (break) under either CA wage law or under the federal FLSA, contact a Sacramento-based Goyette & Associates labor lawyer for a free consultation and review.

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