If you suspect meal period violations, speak with a skilled employment law attorney at The Sempers Law Firm to discuss your particular situation. Call 888-762-0297 to schedule a free consultation.
We represent clients in Los Angeles and other cities in California.
Lunch break, meal break, meal period: What is the difference?
The terms "lunch break," "meal break," and "meal period" are used interchangeably when talking about an employer-provided unpaid, uninterrupted meal period lasting 30 minutes for non-exempt employees who work more than 5 hours in a workday.
Employees are free to spend the 30 minutes of their meal break to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, run their personal errands, or do anything they want without interruptions. Under California law, employees are also entitled to a 10-minute uninterrupted rest break for every 4 hours worked – or major fraction thereof, in a workday.
Are exempt (salaried) employees entitled to lunch breaks?
Some employees, frequently those who are salaried, are not entitled to a lunch break. The California Labor Code uses the following three requirements to determine whether an employee is salaried and exempt from the state's meal break requirements:
- Salary. The employee is paid at least twice the California minimum wage for full-time employment.
- Duties. The employee's primary duties are considered "exempt" and include performing executive, administrative, or professional tasks.
- Independent judgment. The employee customarily and regularly uses discretion and independent judgment in performing their duties.
California's lunch break requirements also do not apply to workers classified as independent contractors, and there are certain other exceptions.
Are non-exempt (hourly) employees entitled to lunch breaks?
Yes, California Labor Code § 512 requires employers to provide a 30-minute lunch break to non-exempt employees who work more than five hours in a workday. Non-exempt employees are entitled to two lunch breaks if they work at least 10 hours in a shift.