Rest Breaks

Are you an employee who works more than three and a half hours? Does your employer require you to work continuously without a break? If so, there is a good chance that you are entitled to rest periods. Save a for limited exceptions, California law requires employers to allow employees to take ten-minute rest periods.

What Are the Rules Regarding Rest Breaks?

Under California law, employers must provide rest breaks for employees who work at least three and a half hours in a day. For every four hours (or “major fraction” thereof) worked, the employer must allow the employee to take a ten-minute break. Or put differently, an employee who works four hours should get at least ten consecutive minutes of rest.

There are a few key guidelines for the rest break. First, the employer must pay the employee; a lawful rest break is paid. Second, the employer cannot make the employee work during the rest break-- the employee must enjoy complete rest from work duties. Third, the employer may require the employee to remain on the premises during the break. Finally, if practicable, best practices suggest that employers allow employees to take rest period during the middle of the four-hour work period. Employees who work more than four hours and accrue more than one rest period must spread out their rest periods rather than taking one large combined rest period.

If the employer interrupts the employee’s break, then the employer must provide another ten-minute break or pay the employee for an additional full hour of pay.

An employer may not discourage an employee from taking the rest break, but an employee is free to skip the break.

Rest Breaks for Specific Categories of Employees

The rest break standards described above apply to most employees, but not all. Certain employees face different standards. Employees employed by 24-hour residential care facilities, for example, might have limited rest periods. On the other hand, performers engaged in physical activities, such as swimmers or dancers, might have additional rest periods during rehearsals or practices.

Nursing mothers also have a particular rest break standard. An employer must provide nursing mothers a reasonable break, to express milk for her infant child. This is known as a lactation break period. The lactation break is only paid if it is concurrent with the normal break—if the lactation break is not concurrent, then the employer need not pay for the break. Regardless, an employer must make reasonable efforts to provide a private venue, other than a toilet stall, for nursing.

A California Labor/Employment Attorney May Be Able to Help You Get Compensated for or Secure your Rest Breaks

If you work more than three and a half hours and your employer is denying you rest breaks or interrupting your rest, without compensation, there is a solution. The skilled Orange County attorneys at Nassiri Law Group can help you secure the rest breaks you deserve or get compensated if your employer has infringed on your rights. Call 714-937-2020 for a free consultation today.