California Employment Law: Meal and Rest Periods

In California, an employer may not employ an employee for a work period of more than 5 hours per day without providing the employee with a meal period of no less than thirty (30) minutes unless the total work period per day of the employee is no more than 6 hours, the meal period may be waived by consent of both the employer and employee in writing. A second meal period of not less than thirty (30) minutes is required if an employee works more than ten hours per day, except that if the total hours worked is no more than 12 hours, the second meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and employee only if the first meal period was not waived.



If the employer requires the employee to remain at the work site or facility during the meal period, the meal period must be paid. This is even applies to situation where the employee is relieved of all work duties during the meal period yet remains at the workplace area.


If an employer fails to provide an employee a meal period in accordance with an applicable State law, the employer must pay one additional hour of pay at the employee's hourly employment rate for each workday that the meal period is not provided. It is important to know that this additional hour is not counted as hours worked for purposes of overtime calculations.

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