• Finley Employment Law

"Rest" Means Rest: Rest Periods Under California Law



Originally Published on August 5, 2018; Updated/Revised on June 19, 2019

If you are a non-exempt employee, you have the right to take rest periods under California law, and your employer is violating the law if it fails to provide you with required rest periods. Below are six things that you should know about the scope of your right to take rest periods in California:

No. 1: Under California law, your employer must permit you to take a ten-minute rest period for every four hours you work in a day. But you are not entitled to any rest period if you work fewer than 3.5 hours in a day.

After you work four hours in a day, in addition to the one ten-minute rest period, you are also entitled to another ten-minute rest period if you work a “major fraction” of a four-hour period. “Major fraction” is more than half of a four-hour period (i.e., more than two hours). This means that, generally speaking, you are entitled to: no rest period if you work fewer than 3.5 hours during a day; one ten-minute rest period if you work 3.5 hours to 6 hours during a day; two ten-minute rest periods if you work more than 6 hours up to 10 hours during a day; and three ten-minute rest periods if you work more than 10 hours up to 14 hours during a day.

No. 2: Your rest periods are considered as hours worked. In other words, your employer may not deduct wages from any rest periods that are required under California law.

No. 3: Your ten-minute rest period must be duty-free. Your employer may not require you to do any work whatsoever during your rest period, including requiring you to be “on-call.” For instance, your employer may not require that you check your work email during your rest period; or that you keep your pager on during your rest period; or that you answer work-related calls during your rest period.

No. 4: Your ten-minute rest period must be consecutive. For instance, your employer may not break up your ten-minute rest period into two five-minute rest periods.

No. 5: Generally speaking, your employer must permit you to take your rest period in the middle of each work period “insofar as practicable.” For instance, if you are working from 2 pm to 7 pm on Monday, your employer should make a good faith effort to permit you to take your rest period around 4:30 pm. Your employer, however, is allowed to deviate from this preferred course when practical considerations make it infeasible for your employer to schedule your rest period in the middle of your work period.

No. 6: You may choose to skip your rest period – but your employer may not coerce you into skipping your rest period, create incentives for you to skip your rest period, or otherwise encourage you to skip your rest period.

If you believe that your employer is not providing you with required rest periods, call ((916) 612-0326) or email (contact@finleyemplaw.com) Finley Employment Law today.

The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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