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The problem of rounding time for meal breaks in California

by | Jun 24, 2021 | Employment Law

California has certain rules that make sure employees receive adequate meal breaks according to labor law. Specifically, the state has made it illegal to round up time for meal breaks to the nearest 10-minute mark. Here are a few things employees should keep in mind to ensure that they are receiving adequate pay for work around meal breaks.

What are the rules?

Simply put, employment law states that employees are due a 30-minute meal break for every five hours they work. The meal break is not required to be paid, and the employee is due another 30-minute break for a meal if they work another five hours. An employee can waive their meal period if they work no longer than six hours for the first break and under 12 hours for the second meal break. However, it must be the employee’s decision to waive the break. An employer cannot force them to work through a meal time.

The employer’s responsibility

Employers must have systems in place to prove that employees are receiving meal breaks as they should. This can be done by utilizing adequate time clock equipment where an employee clocks in and out for meal times. However, time clocks alone are not enough. Employers must supervise employees to physically determine that rules are being followed regarding breaks. Employers must be prepared to prove that they are following the rules should there be a complaint.

The employee’s responsibility

While it is important for employers to follow the rules, employees must follow the rules as well. Employees should clock in and out efficiently when it comes to meal breaks, and it is imperative they follow established employment law and take all necessary breaks. If they don’t follow the rules, they put the entire business at risk for not adhering to policy.

If your employer has not followed proper protocol regarding meal times, it could be necessary for you to file a complaint. However, filing an official compliant could be scary to handle on your own. Consulting an experienced employment law attorney may help determine if you have an adequate complaint and how to proceed.