Meal Period Requirements in California

What are the requirements for a proper meal period in California?

In California, employees must be provided with at least a 30-minute, off-duty meal period when they work more than five hours. If the employee is not relieved of all duty during the 30-minute meal period or if the employee may not leave the premises, the meal period is really “on-duty,” meaning that it counts towards the total hours worked by the employee, and the employee must be paid for the meal period at his or her regular rate of pay.

Employers do not have to pay for “on-duty” meal periods only when the nature of the employee’s work does not allow the employee to take a meal period and the employee signs a written agreement stating that he or she agrees to the on-duty meal period. This can only happen when, based on objective criteria, the employee cannot be relieved of all duty based on necessary job duties. Examples would be a sole worker in a kiosk, a worker who works alone in a 24/7 convenience store, or a security guard who is the only one stationed at an isolated site.

For a full evaluation of your meal period wage claim, contact Strauss & Strauss APC for a free case evaluation. Also, make sure you visit the FAQ section to learn more about California lunch break laws.