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Does my employer have to provide breaks?

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2023 | Employment Law |

Working long hours without breaks can be incredibly difficult. Everyone can benefit from having a short break every now and then to recharge and reset.

In California, employment laws have specific rules mandating breaks for employees that seek to allow for a healthy and safe work environment.

After four hours of work

The first break an employer must provide comes after you have worked for four hours straight. At this time, you must receive a 10-minute break. Your employer must pay you for this time off.

After five hours

After you have worked for five hours in one day, your employer must provide you with a 30-minute break. You may hear this defined as a meal break. You earn it after you work five hours. This is an unpaid break, but it is mandatory to take it.

Additional breaks for specific situations

If you work for 12 or more hours in one day, then your employer must give you an additional 30-minute unpaid break.

If you work outside, your employer also has to give you additional breaks to get out of the heat to cool off and prevent heat-related illnesses.

Breastfeeding mothers also have access to additional breaks needed to express breastmilk.

Break time mandated by law is non-negotiable. Neither you nor your employer can ignore these laws. You must take a break when told to do so, and your employer must provide it. Violations of the break laws can lead to legal issues for your employer. If you refuse to take a break, your employer could get into serious trouble.