Rest Break Claims

California law generally requires employers in California to authorize and permit all nonexempt employees to take paid rest periods, which should be in the middle of each work period when possible.

The employer must provide rest periods at the rate of 10 minutes per four hours worked or major fraction thereof. Authorized rest period time shall be counted as hours worked for which there shall be no deduction from wages.

The rest break is to be net; in other words, the rest period begins when the employee reaches an area away from the workstation that is appropriate for rest.

A nonexempt employee is entitled to one rest period per four work period or major fraction thereof. This means that an employer may not count periods of less than 10 minutes as rest periods meeting the requirement for rest breaks.

The rest period is not to be confused with or limited to breaks taken by employees to use toilet facilities. Allowing employees to use toilet facilities during working hours does not meet the employer's obligation to provide rest periods as required by law.

This is not to say, that employers do not have the right to reasonably limit the amount of time an employee may be absent from his or her workstation. And it does not indicate that any employee who chooses to use the toilet facilities while on an authorized break may extend the break time by doing so. However, an employer may not require an employee to count any separate use of toilet facilities as a rest period.

An employer may be liable if the employee's workload precluded the employee from taking his full 10-minute rest period, or if the employee missed this rest period as a result of employer coercion or encouragement.

If an employer fails to provide an employee a duty-free rest period in accordance with the law, the employer must generally provide one hour of pay at the employee's regular rate of compensation for each workday that the rest period is not provided or was not duty free. No matter how many rest periods are missed per workday, only one missed rest period payment may be imposed per workday.

A complex set of laws govern the requirements that California employers provide nonexempt employees with rest periods. Numerous exceptions exist which alter an employer's duty to provide an employee with rest periods. To navigate the complex statutes regarding whether you are receiving rest periods in compliance with California law, you need to speak to an experienced attorney who is familiar with the law in this area.

If you believe that your employer has failed to follow the law in payment of your wages, contact Lavi & Ebrahimian, LLP, today for a free consultation. Our experienced employment attorneys will evaluate your options under the law and can help you obtain the most complete relief possible.