Can Employees Work Through Their Lunch in CA?

Depending on the employee’s specific situation, they may work through their lunch or meal break. The comprehensive rest and meal break laws of California can be confusing for many employers. They can likewise result in costly and needless litigation if not followed properly. It is the responsibility of employers to understand how the ever-changing labor laws on key issues could affect their company practices and policies.

What Employers Should Know About On-Duty Meal Periods

In some situations, workers may be allowed to go on on-duty meal breaks, but this time must be compensated at the employee’s standard pay rate. On-duty meal breaks can be allowed by agreement under specific circumstances. Primarily, on-duty meal breaks are only permitted when the worker’s job duties prevent them from being relieved of their duties, and the worker and employer agree in writing to a paid on-duty meal break.

The agreement must contain language that clearly explains that the worker can revoke the agreement at any time. The revocation must also be in writing. The employer will only be required to compensate the worker for the time worked if all the conditions are not satisfied. But if the conditions for the on-duty meal break are not met, it can be costly for the employer.

Basic Rules of Meal Breaks

Employees in CA must likewise receive an unpaid 30-minute meal break after every five hours of work. They may choose not to take the meal break but only if they’re required to work for five to six hours. Workers should also receive a second meal break after 10 hours of work but can waive this break if they didn’t take the first break. They must take their meal breaks prior to the end of their fifth work hour.

Employers should also consider setting meal break times strategically, such that workers are given a 10 to 15-minute buffer to avoid bumping up against the clock. Likewise, employers must take into account that conscientious or responsible workers may rush to get back to work within the allotted meal break time, which may force them to regularly clock out before their 30-minute meal break is up to avoid being late.

A common workaround to this is providing a 45-minute to an hour of unpaid meal break. This way, employees still receive their paid 30-minute meal break. Workers who work between five and six hours may be offered the option to sign a waiver if they prefer to skip the meal break.

Reach Out to a Seasoned Encino, CA, Employment Lawyer Today

Employers must make sure that their policies are always up-to-date and that their supervisors apply those policies to ensure compliance with the law. Make sure that workers are also well-trained and that they comply with the policies. In case of a meal break violation, employers must audit their policies to find out why the violation occurred and how they prevent it from happening again.

For any questions or concerns about compliance, don’t hesitate to contact Kaufman McAndrew LLP for legal advice. Please reach us online or call 818-788-5767 to set up a case review with our Encino, CA, employment lawyer.