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Controversy over meal breaks can cause wage and hour disputes

Even when the workday is not hectic, California workers need to take some time away from their duties. Meal breaks provide this short escape and give workers an opportunity to refuel with some food and drink. Unfortunately, some employers fail to follow the rules when it comes to meal breaks, which can lead to wage and hour disputes from employee’s entitled to either the break or pay for the time allowed by law.

California workers who are not quite sure what the law allows regarding meal breaks could end up losing the time they could have used for themselves while at work or pay for meal breaks that an employer failed to provide. During the course of the workday, an employer must provide a meal break of at least 30 minutes before a worker spends five hours at work. Another minimum 30 minute meal break should occur prior to the end of the 10th hour of work.

If an employee chooses to work and eat at the same time, he or she may do so and get paid for that time. If an employee does not work more than six hours on a given day, he or she can decide not to take a meal break. In some cases, situations arise that preclude an employee from taking a meal break. If this happens, then the employer must pay the employee for that time.

These are not the only issues regarding meal breaks that employers and employees need to pay attention to, however. When California workers suspect their employers are violating the rules regarding meal breaks, they may want to take the time to figure out whether that is the case. Gaining an understanding of their rights could help employees know when wage and hour disputes regarding this and other issues would be appropriate.