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California employers are required to give workers breaks

You work hard and you deserve a break when you're on the job. California is one of eight states that requires all employers to give their workers breaks. If your job isn't giving you time to eat a meal or take a rest break, then they are likely violating the law, and you could be owed compensation.

Paid breaks every shift

If your shift is more than three and a half hours, you're generally entitled to a paid 10-minute break for every four hours you work. This is a law that covers most employers in California.

There are exceptions, though. Employees of 24-hour residential care facilities, for example, may have limited rest periods. The same is true for professional swimmers, dancers, actors and other performers.

Meal breaks

California also requires that your employer offer time for you to eat a meal. If your shift is more than five hours long, then your employer is required by law to give you a half-hour meal period. If your shift is more than 10 hours, then you're to be given a second half-hour meal period. Unlike rest breaks, employers are not required to pay you during meal breaks in most cases.

What if your employer doesn't allow breaks?

If your employer isn't letting you take breaks during your shift, you're probably wondering if there's anything you can do about it. Yes, there absolutely is.

If you're an employee covered by rest period requirements and you are not being given proper breaks, you are due additional compensation. Your employer must pay you one hour of pay at your regular rate for each workday that you did not receive your breaks.

If your employer fails to pay these extra wages, you may want to take action such as filing a wage claim with the Division of Labor and Standards Enforcement.

A wage claim is a formal means of recovering the money that you are owed with the help of the Division of Labor and Standards Enforcement. These are laws designed to help workers like you be treated and paid fairly. If you're not being treated fairly, then you may want to use all the tools available to get back on the right track.

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