Are You Paid For Your Lunch Break?

Did you know that the federal law does not specify any regulations for an employee to take any lunch or meal breaks while at work?

It states that an employer is not obliged to sanction a specific time frame for an employee to have a meal while on the job. They only have arrangements for an employee to be continued to be paid while they take smaller breaks, but a specific meal break is not chalked out by the federal law.

However, most of the time employers will allow employees a break. It is understood that an employee cannot be productive if they are hungry or tired.

The California Law, however, have some variations. While they recognize and sanction a separate meal break during working hours, lunch breaks are unpaid in California.

The California Law has chalked out the following regulations for a meal break

  • An employee who has been working for five hours (or other such specified time frame) or more, they are entitled to take a 30 minute break from their work.
  • This time period is unpaid for by the employer.
  • During this time, the employee is completely relieved of their work related duties. They can leave the premises for that period of time and are not bound by law to attend any work related responsibilities during that time.
  • The employer is bound by law to grant a meal break, however, they need not keep a check whether the employee has taken that specified break or not.
  • However, there may be a situation, where the employee is not able to leave the office desk and has to eat their meal on the working desk. In such a situation, the employer is expected to pay the employee for that much time as per their working hour payments.
  • However, if an employee’s working hours do not exceed 6 hours, then that meal break can be waived off.
  • And when an employee’s working hours are longer than 10 hours, they can take a second meal break lasting 30 minutes. The employee can choose not to take this break provided they have taken the first meal break as specified.

The California Laws take care to ensure the employee’s rights are met. An employee can complain against the employer if they do not meet these prescribed regulations.