If you are a non-exempt employee, you have the right to take rest periods under California law. Below are some things that you should know:
No. 1: Under California law, your employer must allow you to take: (a) one ten-minute rest period if you work 3.5 hours to 6 hours during a day; (b) two ten-minute rest periods if you work more than 6 hours up to 10 hours during a day; and (c) three ten-minute rest periods if you work more than 10 hours up to 14 hours during a day.
No. 2: You are not entitled to take any rest period if you work fewer than 3.5 hours in a day.
No. 3: Your rest periods are considered as hours worked. In other words, your employer may not deduct wages from any rest periods that you are entitled to take under California law.
No. 4: Your ten-minute rest period must be duty-free. In other words, 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. 5: 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. 6: Generally speaking, your employer must allow you to take your rest period in the middle of each work period “insofar as practicable.” For instance, if you work from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, your employer should make a good faith effort to allow you to take your rest period around 4:30 p.m. Your employer, however, may 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. 7: 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.