The complexity of federal and state labor law may not be well known to the majority of American workers. The majority of workers are aware of the fundamentals, such as receiving time and a half for overtime and being permitted to take a break for lunch. It can be challenging to understand your legal rights if your employer isn’t transparent about them. This covers the right to take both meal and rest breaks, as well as the repercussions if your employer doesn’t provide you with either.
Keep reading to get the facts. If you believe you have not gotten the paid breaks you are entitled to, contact PLBSH at (800) 435-7542 to speak to an employment law attorney right away and request a legal consultation.
The facts about meal breaks and rest breaks
All non-exempt employees are entitled to both meal and rest breaks, claims a California employment attorney. Anyone whose salary and working hours are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act is considered a non-exempt worker (FLSA). If an employee is exempt, their company is not required to provide them with certain benefits or with overtime compensation. You must typically be paid a salary (as opposed to hourly pay) and undertake executive, administrative, or professional activities in order to be excluded from the law.
After five hours of work, non-exempt employees in California are entitled to a 30-minute dinner break (and an additional meal break every 5 hours thereafter). There must be no work-related commitments or disruptions during these meal breaks. For instance, it wouldn’t count as a break if your supervisor required you to be on call during your dinner break. Employees are entitled to a 10-minute rest break in addition to a meal break every four hours. While rest breaks are paid, meal breaks are unpaid.
Your employer cannot lawfully discourage you from having a meal break
It’s important to note that companies are not allowed to encourage or forbid employees from having meals or meal breaks. Employers must offer these breaks, but they are not obligated to ensure that staff members take them. There may be times when you are the sole security guard at a station, and you are unable to take a break for lunch because no one else is available to take your place. If this is the case, you and your employer may decide that you will eat meals while working.
What transpires then if you skip a meal or a rest period or are required to work during one? You are entitled to an additional hour of pay from your employer if you skip a meal or rest period. Your employer is required to give you two extra hours of salary if you skip both a food break and a rest break. It’s referred to as premium pay.
Call us now for help understanding your options
You have choices to uphold your rights if your employer doesn’t allow you to take food or rest breaks or pays you less than minimum wage. In order to do this, you can submit a wage claim to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement or consult with a California employment attorney to bring a lawsuit against your employer. The statute of limitations, or time restriction, states that you have three years from the date of the infraction to file a claim.
Over time, missed meal and rest breaks as well as your employer’s reluctance to pay you premium wages might add up to a sizable sum. You might be able to sue your employer for unpaid wages and overtime if you find yourself in this predicament. PLBSH can assist. We have assisted staff members who experience injustice at work for more than 50 years. Call (800) 435-7542 or send an email to email@example.com to set up a meeting with a California employment attorney.