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Make Sure You Give Employees Proper Breaks

F. Michael Ayaz

The state of California outlines specific laws that govern what types of breaks employers must give their employees throughout a workday. Employers must follow these regulations or face certain consequences.

According to the Department of Labor, employees must take a 30-minute meal break for every five hours they work in a shift. An exception can occur if the shift is six hours or less and there is a mutual agreement to skip the meal period. There is also an exception for those who work in the broadcasting, motion picture and wholesale baking industries.

According to the State of California Department of Industrial Relations, employees must also take specified rest breaks.  Workers may take a 10-minute break for every four hours they work, and ideally this should occur in the middle of the shift. Employers can stagger breaks in certain occupations to prevent workflow interruption. There are exceptions for certain employees such as workers in facilities that provide residential care 24 hours a day and physical performers such as dancers, swimmers and skaters.

Employers must also grant an adequate lactation break and location for nursing moms. The location must not be a restroom, and the break does not necessarily need to coincide with the regular 10-minute rest period. However, if a lactation break is in addition to the rest break, the employer does not need to pay the employee for the time.

There are consequences for employers who do not comply with these labor laws. For each day an employer does not allow a break, he or she must pay the worker an additional hour of work at the regular rate of pay.

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