California law requires paid breaks

In addition to federal laws, our state has its own set of laws and regulations that require employers in Los Angeles and throughout this state to afford periodic breaks to their employees. Here, employers must allow hourly employees a break for every four hours worked. The break requirement also applies to every major fraction of four hours worked, and state regulators have interpreted this to include any time worked over two hours. However, an employee must work at least 3.5 hours on a given day in order to be entitled to a break.

Employers do have some leeway as to when they provide these breaks. For example, in some occupations, employers may insist that break times be staggered so that work can continue. But, the ideal is always for the break to take place in the middle of the four-hour period in question.

More importantly, the employer must give the break and must pay compensation for it as if the employee were on duty. Other than that the rest period may end after 10 minutes, the employer can impose no work requirements on their employees. For example, the employer cannot make an employee take a break in the break room.

While there are penalties for not providing the required breaks, many employers try to skirt around this law in a number of ways. For example, some employers put such pressure on their employees to perform tasks by a certain time that it is, practically speaking, impossible for an employee to take a break. When a Los Angeles employer denies its employees break time, they may face consequences, including a penalty of having to pay the employee for an extra hour of work and unpaid wages.

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