When Am I Allowed To Take A Meal Break?

You Have Rights As A Worker. I Will Help Protect Them.
Denis ZilberbergNovember 13, 2015Wage & Hour Law

Sometimes you need time to get something to eat and other times you want to skip it because you’ve got a rhythm going and don’t want to break it. Either way, you should take a meal break. The benefits of giving your brain, your feet, hands, and whatever else you use to work a break, are undisputed. From improving memory to reducing stress, breaks from work are good for your health.

So the issue arises, when are you entitled to take time to eat? Some employers are consistent and always offer their employees breaks after a certain amount of hours. However, maybe your supervisor is under a deadline and pushes you to skip a meal. Typically under California law, you are entitled to a meal break after you have worked for five consecutive hours.

Further, if you are required to remain on duty during the duration of a meal break, then you are entitled to full payment for that time. Such an arrangement can only be made if the nature of your work is such that you cannot be relieved of all duty during the break. You must also agree in writing to the arrangement.

You have the right to take a meal break. It is good for your health and your sanity. If you have questions regarding your right to breaks and meals, then consulting an attorney to walk you through the law could be helpful. We can’t always be “on,” it is important to take a moment and relax. Don’t miss yours because your boss may miss a deadline.


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