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Can you leave your employer’s premises during your break?

by | Aug 6, 2020 | Employment Law

Most workers look forward to break time, since it gives them the opportunity to rest, run errands and eat. You may want to grab a bite from a local Los Angeles restaurant during this time. Or, you may want to take a snooze in a park close to company property. Yet, your supervisor may have reprimanded you from leaving the premises during break time. Before doing so again, you will want to understand whether California’s laws allow you to.

California’s break laws

Workers in California who clock between six and 10 hours per shift receive one paid 10-minute break for every four hours of work they complete. If you work an eight-hour day, then, you will receive two of these breaks during your shift. The state also requires employers to provide an unpaid meal period for workers whose shifts last longer than five hours. This period must last for at least 30 minutes.

In 2016, California’s Supreme Court ruled that employers cannot force workers to remain on premises during break periods. By law, employers must relinquish any control over workers on break. And they must also relieve them of any duties that they perform. The law, though, provides for reasonable exceptions due to matters of time. If you want to go to a restaurant that is 10 minutes away from your workplace, for instance, you will not have time to do so during your paid break periods.

Taking your break

Your employer may continue to prevent you from traveling off premises during your break time. In this case, you will want to file a wage claim against them for violating California’s laws. If your employer has a history of flouting the state’s break laws, though, you may want to take legal action against them instead.

California employees have the right to choose how they spend their breaks during their workday. Yet, your employer may refuse to relinquish control or relieve you of your duties during these periods. An attorney can help you stand up for your rights in these cases.