ON-DUTY MEAL BREAKS « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Can’t catch a break?? On-Duty Meal Breaks

In California, generally an employer may not have an hourly wage employee work more than five hours per day without providing that employee with at least a thirty minute meal break.  However, if that worker will complete the day’s work in six hours, the worker and employer may waive that meal period by mutual consent.

In very rare circumstances, it may not be possible to relieve an hourly employee of all duty during the entire meal period.  For example, a single worker in a coffee kiosk, a sole worker in an all-night convenience store, or a security guard stationed alone at a remote work site typically must remain on the premises at all times during their shift.

Under such limited circumstances, the meal period shall be considered “on duty,” and that eating time must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay.

Therefore, an on-duty meal break is only permitted when:

  • The nature of the work objectively prevents an employee from being relieved of all duty;
  • The on-duty meal break is agreed to in writing by the employee and his or her employer;
  • The employee is paid for the meal break; and
  • The employee has the right to revoke the on-duty meal break at any time in writing (except under California Wage Order 14 concerning agricultural workers).

If you have any questions, please contact me or any of our other employment law attorneys.   Best, Cindy Bamforth