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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37639
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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If I am working 13 hr days, am I required to punch out for

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If I am working 13 hr days, am I required to punch out for 30min breaks, but I am not completely relieved of my duties, nor can I leave the facility, is this legal? They claim they will pay me for the 30min but I must use the time clock anyways? Why? I dont really get an uniterrupted break, so why is it necessary? What purpose does this serve? I am a nurse and it is my license that keeps their doors open. I have to be available at all times for the patients or if any doctors come in to do rounds. Many times I do get pulled back on the floor during lunch and then I forget to punch back in after 30mins. I have worked there for four years and I never had to punch in and out for breaks because it was understood that I am to be available. All of a sudden a new manager is mandating these clock ins and outs, I dont understand. I do punch in at the beginning of the shift and when I actually leave. But trying to schedule set breaks is nearly impossible on a day to day basis. I take breaks when it makes sense and the clinic is not so busy. Sometimes its 10 mins, sometimes 30min. whatever makes sense and pt.s are not in jeparody. There is no other nurse to relieve me, so what am I to do?

Good evening Sue,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. I have represented nurses in actions against hospitals and nursing facilities on many occasions, and my wife is a hospital nurse, so I understand how the health care employment situation is, and in today's employment market, just how easy it is for an experienced nurse to find full time employment.

If you are not being relieved from your job duties, then it is unreasonable that you clock out during the period of time that would traditionally be your mandated meal break.

However, if you are relieved for lunch and have the opportunity to leave the facility, and only are potentially on call during that time to be called back to work, then they may demand that you clock out when leaving for lunch. If you are called back in that situation, you will just have to punch back in and go back to work. They will have to pay you for the time that you were off for a portion of the meal break that day.

However, under CA law, if you are required by your employer to remain at your facility during the meal period, then you must be paid for each meal period you take, and it is inappropriate, and accomplishes nothing for the employer to have you clock out and back in again---however, it is not illegal to do so, and the time clocked out cannot be left unpaid, even if you really get the full 30 minutes off occasionally.

Under CA law you are also entitled to a 10 minute break every 4 hours on shift, for which you do not have to clock out, and which must be paid for.

Please keep in mind that, even though you have already paid your deposit money over to JustAnswer, until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be paid for having assisted you with your questions.

If you have additional questions, you may of course reply back to me and I will be happy to continue to assist you further until your questions have been answered to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in your future.


LawTalk and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am at a chronic dialysis faicility. There is no other nurse working with me. There is no physician physically present either. I am it as far as being the one responsible. I also asked about staffing ratios and safety. I am not in the hospital. Are there staffing ratios for chronic dialysis centers? Because, the trend lately is to add more and more responsibilities clinically as well as increasing patient work load and I am told they can do this because there is no law to stop them. I am seriously going to look for another job, but I wanted to know if I am right. I know the ratio in hospital is 1:5. Besides being the only charge/floor nurse I also am required to be the anemia manager, access manager, attend doctor rounds and adjust prescriptions and maintain current medication reviews. These jobs use to be divided up between me and three other nurses. I feel this is ridiculous! There is no time! They just keep adding more and more to the job, without thinking about time,, etc.



Hi Sue,

Regardless of whether you are in a hospital, a general practice clinic or a specialty clinic like yours---the CA labor laws are the same.

Again, I fully understand that you are not free to leave, however, the employer may---as unbelievable as it seems-----make you punch out during your scheduled meal break even if you take no time off. They could get even more ridiculous, and mandate that you clock in and out every hour on the hour---and their insane demand would still be legal under CA law.

It is only illegal for them not to pay you for your meal break if they require that you remain at the facility.

As regards XXXXX XXXXX about patient ratios, while CA has 4 separate ratios depending on where the patient is, they apply only to hospitals and for non-emergency clinics, there is no applicable staffing ratio for chronic dialysis centers in CA, or elsewhere.

I empathize with your situation, and I agree with you, that your situation has become ridiculous and not manageable from a staffing perspective and eventually a patient will be harmed. As there is no protection for you under the law, your best option is, as you have admitted, to look for employment elsewhere. I am sorry, but no law is being violated.

You may reply back to me again if you have additional questions, and I will continue to assist you.

I wish you the best in your future,


Good evening,

Thank you for your positive rating of my service, Sue. It has been my pleasure to assist you and I hope than you will ask for me on JustAnswer should a future need ever arise. I am generally available at least 6 days a week, and often 7, and it would be my privilege to assist you again in the future.

I welcome you to request my assistance in any future legal questions you may have, by simply placing my name in the first sentence of your new question.

Thanks again.


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