Lunch and snack breaks while working: know the law

by | Jan 21, 2021 | Employment Law

California workers may skip a lunch break once in a while in order to catch up with some work that is long overdue, but when they begin to do it regularly, it can have employment law ramifications. It is important for employees to understand how the law is in place to protect them.

Federal law

One of the major reasons employers give employees a break is for the employees own benefit, as it is important for workers to have a healthy lifestyle and remain safe. However, federal law does not mandate employers to provide lunch or snack breaks. What is required that if short breaks between 5 and 20 minutes are given, it be considered part of the time worked. This means employees receive compensation for it. if the break is 30 minutes or more, such as for a lunch break, this does not count as time worked and therefore does not get compensated.

State law

California is one of the few states that mandate employers give their employees at least a 30 minute break in the first five hours after they start working. This can be waived mutually by the employer and the employee but what exactly constitutes mutual waiving is not clear. Whether or not it has to be in writing could depend on the situation.

These policies are in place to prevent predatory employer policies and protect employees. If a worker believes that their rights are being violated in the workplace, they might want to consider consulting an experienced attorney to advocate for their rights. Given the amount of time employees spend on the clock, it is their right that they work in a safe environment.