California employers must provide most employees a first 30-minute meal break if they work more than five hours in a day and a second 30-minute meal breaks if they work more than 10 hours in a day. Meal breaks must be uninterrupted. If an employer requires employees to miss meal breaks, work or remain on call during a meal breaks, or take late meal breaks, the employer must pay each affected employee one additional hour of pay (i.e., premium pay) for each time a proper meal break is not provided. Cal. Lab. Code § 226.7(c).

California employers must also provide most employees a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked, so an employee who works at eight-hour shift would normally be entitled to two separate 10-minute rest breaks. Rest breaks are required to be paid time and they cannot be interrupted by the employer. If an employer requires employees to miss rest breaks, work or remain on call during rest breaks, or take late rest breaks, the employer must pay each affected employee one additional hour of pay (i.e., premium pay) for each time a proper rest break is not provided. Cal. Lab. Code § 226.7(c).

If an employer fails to provide employees timely or uninterrupted meal breaks and rest periods or fail to pay them the extra one hours’ wage for each meal or rest break not provided to employees, they can sue for unpaid premium pay and other damages and penalties under various Labor Code provisions, including sections 226.7(c), 558 and 2699(f)(2) of the California Labor Code.

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