Traliant Resources


California Meal & Rest Break Requirements


Employers cannot require employees to work during mandatory meal and rest periods.

Employers must pay employees one additional hour of pay, at the overtime rate, for each workday a required meal or rest period is not provided.

Meal Periods. Generally, employees may take an unpaid meal period of at least 30 minutes for work periods of more than 5 hours. The meal period may be waived by mutual consent if the workday is completed in no more than 6 hours.

Employees may take a second unpaid meal period of at least 30 minutes for more than 10-hour work periods. The second meal period may be waived by mutual agreement if:

  • the total hours worked is not more than 12 hours, and
  • the first meal period was not waived.

During meal periods, employers must relieve employees of all duties, relinquish control over employees’ activities, and permit employees a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30-minute break. Employers are not required to police meal breaks to ensure no work is being done.

Meal periods must be paid if the employer requires an employee to remain at the worksite. If employees are required to eat on the premises, a suitable place for that purpose must be designated.

On-duty, paid meal periods are permitted if both:

  • The nature of the work prevents relief from all duties.
  • The on-duty meal period is agreed to in writing by the employer and employee. The agreement must expressly give the employee the right to revoke the agreement in writing at any time.

Employees in certain industries are exempt from the meal period requirements if they are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that provides specified meal period or rest break protections.

Rest Breaks. Rest break requirements are based on the total hours worked daily.  Employees must be allowed a break of at least 10 minutes for each work period greater than two hours.  Employees may take rest breaks as follows:

  • One 10-minute break for shifts from 3.5 to 6 hours (no rest period is required for employees working less than 3.5 hours in a day)
  • Two 10-minute breaks for shifts from 6 to 10 hours
  • Three 10-minute breaks for shifts from 10 to 14 hours

Rest periods should occur in the middle of a work period, to the extent possible, and must be paid.

10 minutes means 10 consecutive minutes that begin when the employee reaches the worksite rest area. Employers must provide suitable resting facilities in an area separate from the restrooms.

Certain occupations have different or additional rest period requirements.

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only.
It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.