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Does my employer have to pay me for breaks?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2023 | Employment Law |

California is a very worker-friendly place. One of the employment laws ensures you get break periods during your work day.

The mandated breaks also require that your employer pays you, but there are details about this you should understand.

Basic rule

The basic rule requires that your employer provides you with a ten-minute break for every four hours you work. But the four-hour time period does not have to be four hours. Anything over three and a half hours constitutes the four-hour period and requires a break. Your employer must pay you for the ten minutes.


Your employer can set requirements for how you take the break, such as requiring you to do it at your desk or in a break room. However, the employer cannot mandate that you do any work during this time or otherwise be on call. You have the right to take the full ten minutes away from your duties to do as you please.

Breastfeeding mothers

Your employer does have to give you a break to pump breastmilk. You can do it partially during the ten-minute break and then take additional time to finish. But be aware your employer only has to pay you for the ten-minute break. The employer does not have to pay you for the extra time you take.

California’s employment laws help ensure that you get a small break during your work hours, which can give you a chance to stretch, relax or clear your mind and you do not have to worry about losing money to take this break.