Meal And Rest Periods

According to California labor law, non-exempt employees who work more than five hours in a day are entitled to a 30 minute meal break within the first five hours of their workday. Similarly, those who work more than ten hours in a day must receive a second 30 minute meal break. California labor codes also ensure that non-exempt employees receive rest breaks if they work 3.5 or more hours in a day. Specifically, such employees must receive a ten minute rest period for every 4 hours of labor that they perform. Rest breaks are required by law to be counted as time worked, meaning the employee must be paid for them. For practicality reasons, these rest breaks must lie in the middle of the employee’s period of work.

Employee Exemptions:

The above California meal and rest period requirements only apply to employees who are classified as non-exempt (similar to overtime wage laws). An example of employees who would be exempt from such requirements are white-collar exempt employees. These workers must meet the following requirements to qualify exemption:

Additionally, workers who meet the legal requirements of independent contractors would be considered exempt of meal and rest periods. It is also worth noting that meal period requirements under California labor codes do not apply to unionized employees in industries where collective bargaining agreements have set specified meal breaks. Examples of collective bargaining agreements on meal breaks overriding California labor code include employees who work:

  • In construction occupations
  • As commercial drivers
  • For certain utility companies, including electrical and gas
  • In the motion picture industry
  • As security officers


Employers are legally forbidden from infringing on your meal and/or rest periods by requesting that you continue working or stay “on call”. On the other hand, if you choose to work voluntarily through your meal or rest period, this is not your employer’s responsibility. California employees may take legal action against their employers if they are denied meal or rest breaks guaranteed to them by California labor codes. Employers who deny their employees meal or rest breaks are liable for one hour of the employee’s wage per break that was denied to them.

We Hold Employers Accountable. We Want To Help

Bibiyan Law Group is experienced in securing justice for employees whose rights have been neglected by their employers. If your employer has required you to work through your meal and/or rest periods without proper compensation, or denied them altogether, an experienced overtime attorney from Bibiyan Law Group can assess what you are owed and how to best proceed. Contact an expert employment attorney from Bibiyan Law Group today for a free consultation. Even if you believe your claim is small, other employees at your workplace may be suffering a similar unfair circumstance. If this is the case, Bibiyan Law Group may be able to combine your claims into a class action lawsuit- effectively recovering compensation for you and your co-workers. We at Tomorrow Law are devoted to fighting for the justice that California employees deserve. We will work tirelessly to ensure the maximum amount of compensation is paid out for your claim. Our contingency fee basis ensures that you will never pay out-of-pocket; that is, you do not have to pay any fees unless you win or recover compensation. Don’t wait- there are statutes of limitations, or time restrictions, on these types of legal matters. Contact Bibiyan Law Group today at (310)-438-5555.

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