In today’s workforce, employees are often very busy, especially when working in the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors. A labor shortage caused in part by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has left many workers feeling busier than ever in their roles. But it’s important to note that even when things pick up, your employees are still entitled to breaks.
In the state of California, employers are required to provide a 10-minute rest break during every four-hour period worked by an employee. Additionally, an employee who works a “major fraction” of a four-hour period is entitled to a 10-minute break. Experts agree that a major fraction is two hours or more. During the break, an employee must be free of all work duties. A break that is fewer than 10 minutes in duration doesn’t count as a valid rest period.
Employees in California shouldn’t clock out, as the required 10-minute rest breaks are considered to be “on the clock.” They can leave the premises but remain close enough to return to work within five minutes to resume work at the end of 10 minutes. It’s best to provide the 10-minute rest break as close to the middle of the work period as possible, although a break can be taken at any point during the period.
Any employee working more than five hours in a day is also entitled to a 30-minute unpaid meal break in the state of California. It must be given by the end of the fifth hour of work. The employee and employer can mutually agree to waive a meal break if the work shift is six hours or less.
If an employee works more than 10 hours in a day, they must receive a second 30-minute unpaid meal break. All meal breaks must be duty-free, which means the employee is not required or permitted to work and is not subject to the employer’s control.
Avoid legal issues by making sure your organization remains in compliance with the state-mandated meal and break periods for employees.