Does my employer have to give me meal breaks?

California employers must provide meal breaks to non-exempt employees who work a certain number of hours per day. Employees are entitled to a 30-minute meal period after working five hours in a single day.
Employees with shifts longer than 10 hours have the right to take a second uninterrupted 30-minute meal break. If the first meal period was not waived, workers might choose to waive the second one if the workday is under 12 hours.
Unlike rest breaks, meal periods are unpaid as they do not count among the hours worked. Meal periods must be uninterrupted, which means employees should be relieved of all work duties during that time. California workers are permitted to leave the workplace during their meal periods.

Other Unpaid Wage & Overtime FAQs:


My parents were heavily involved in community organizing. Seeing neighbors and friends’ parents struggle in the workplace gave me a sense of purpose that I wanted to help others. Many employees feel helpless and powerless in the workplace, and helping them vindicate their rights is the right thing to do.

- Jason Erlich

Client testimonials

Jason took the time to explain and guide me through the challenging process, and went the extra steps in consistently providing guidance and putting my concerns and questions high on their list.

Jeff V., Oakland

Jason Erlich made me feel like I was in the right place right away.I had some serious problems with a previous employer and he took care of everything. From the start he helped with my concerns and fears going up against a big corporation.

Susan W., Pacifica

With Jason’s expertise, commitment and aggressiveness, the case is now over and it’s only been 6 months!! I would HIGHLY recommend Jason Erlich to anyone that needs an employment lawyer.

Carla, Petaluma

I can highly recommend Jason Erlich Esq. for any employment law matter. He is an outstanding lawyer, embodies a mix of honesty, knowledge, client care and tough mindset.

Roger J., Oakland

When employees' legal rights are violated, we take time to explain their legal options, listen to their goals, and aggressively argue their case until we achieve the resolution they deserve.