If you are a non-exempt employee, your employer is required by California Employment law to provide you with at least two breaks per day. These breaks can be taken in any increments of 10 minutes or more and should not be deducted from your hourly wage.
This is a requirement of the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders, which are regulations governing wages and working conditions in California. Employers must provide this break time during the workday, but it can be unpaid if an employee chooses not to take it or takes less than ten minutes.
Employees who work at least three and a half hours are entitled to a 30 minute meal period before they start their shift, as well as another 30 minute meal period after they have worked five hours or more. These breaks should also be paid unless otherwise agreed upon by both parties.
The Industrial Welfare Commission has set forth clear guidelines on how long these breaks should last so that employers do not abuse them by making workers come back too soon from their break time
The purpose of these rest periods is to allow the worker time for relaxation and refreshment, which will result in increased efficiency on the job as well as decreased health risks due to fatigue.
Employers must comply with federal, state, and local rules governing rest breaks. Forcing employees to remain on the premises during rest breaks may be considered a violation of state requirements.
Employers who violate this law may face penalties up to $500 per violation plus an additional penalty equal to 25% of wages owed but unpaid because of the violation.
However, employers may discipline employees for unauthorized extensions of rest breaks in accordance with their company policy beyond the statutory requirement and check their state and local law to ensure compliance.
Employers may need to adjust the work schedule accordingly if they have more than five people on staff that are non-exempt from this law. They can also consider providing them with a shorter lunch break instead of no break at all during their shift.