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Your guide to meal and rest break provisions in California

What must your employer comply with according to the FLSA

The basics around what employees are allowed to depend on whether you are an exempt or non-exempt employee. Exempt employees are those exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. The FLSA is a broad edict that covers many aspects of working life from work by minors, minimum wages, and work done outside of the regular 40 hour work week such as overtime pay.

For exempt employees, the FLSA doesn’t cover anything related to hours, because the employer must simply meet the FLSA base rate for weekly, monthly, or yearly salary and besides that there are no stipulations about hours actually worked. Typically, exempt employees are those who have a high level of education like doctors, lawyers, engineers, or those in managerial roles, and people who are involved in outside sales or marketing jobs. Most people who do freelance, contract or retail jobs fall into the non-exempt category. These people must be allowed the rest and break provisions and be paid wage and a half for any hours over 40 hours worked.

For nonexempt employees, you are entitled to a 10 minute rest break for every 4 hours worked. You are encouraged to take this break during the middle of your shift and away from your usual place of work. If you work less than four hours then you aren’t entitled to this rest. Employers are also required to give employees a thirty minute break every 5 hours and employees must take this unless they work less than 6 hours. This break must be taken less than five hours into your more than 6 hour shift. If you work more than 10 hours your employer must give you another second break but the employee can forfeit this if they already took their first break. If you wish to agree and write a written notice to waive any of these breaks or take ‘on-duty’ breaks if their job makes it hard to take breaks. The employee’s job must meet both these qualifications and has the right to go back to taking breaks and cancel their written notice at any time.

We can help you handle cases where you feel you are being treated unfairly in regards to breaks.

Feel free to contact our firm for further guidance.

Aziz Yellin LLP

(408) 600-0726

This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.


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