California Employment Law
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Generally speaking, California law provides that an employer may not employ a worker for a period of more than five hours at a time without providing the worker with a meal period of not less than thirty minutes, except that if the total work period per day of the employee is no more than six hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and employee. (Labor Code Section 512.)
In regard to rest breaks, which are different than meal periods, California law requires employers to "authorize and permit" nonexempt employees to take a rest period that should, to the extent practicable, be taken in the middle of the employee's shift. An employee is entitled to take a rest period of no less than 10 minutes for each 4 hour period of work, or major fraction thereof.
These rights cannot be stripped by an employer who wants to discipline an employee.
If an employer refuses to provide you meal periods and/or rest breaks, it would generally be wise to file a claim with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement. To file a claim with the DLSE, visit this link: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/howtofilewageclaim.htm
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