Lunch Break Laws California

The California Labor Code wants to ensure that your workplace is a healthy environment.

This environment should include time to get the rest you need to sustain you through the workday.

But sometimes you just want to finish your work as quickly as possible and go home.

For you, the ideal way to accomplish this level of efficiency might be to work straight through your meal period. Is this allowed? Under many circumstances, it is.

To take advantage of working through meal periods without creating legal issues for your employer, you need to understand the California meal period law.

Below, the expert wage and hour attorneys at Workplace Rights Law Group discuss if you can waive a lunch break in California. If you have questions or would like to speak with a member of our team, call us at 818-334-6881. 

Basic Meal Period Rules in California

If your shift is more than five hours, your employer has to give you a 30-minute, uninterrupted meal break. If you work more than 10 hours in a day, your employer has to give you two 30-minute meal breaks.

The number of meal periods you get increases with the number of hours you work in excess of five hours.

To determine if your employer is following the break laws in California, you can take a look at our article, “What Are the Meal Break Laws in California?”  

But there are some exceptions to the general meal period rules. These exceptions are normally based on the industry you’re in or how you get paid.

If you’re unsure whether you have the same meal period rights as other California employees, a skilled wage and hour attorney can let you know. 

Rules for Skipping Meal Periods in California

Under the California lunch break law, you can skip meal periods without causing legal issues for your employer, as long as it was your voluntary decision to do so.

Your ability to do this depends on the length of your shift and the understanding you and your employer have. If you don’t work more than six hours, you can skip your meal period.

If you work more than 10 hours, but not more than 12 hours, you can skip your second meal period, but you still have to take your first meal period.

Whatever your shift situation is, you and your employer must agree that you will skip your meal period before you do it. 

If you don’t waive your right to uninterrupted meal periods and your employer prevents you from taking them, your employer could owe you one hour’s worth of pay for every meal period you don’t receive.

If you cannot work these payments out with your employer, you can file a civil lawsuit, or you can file a wage claim with the California Department of Industrial Relations.

Talk to a California Attorney About Protecting Your Workplace Rights

Workplace disputes are often exhausting and stressful. It’s not ideal to fight for your rights as an employee alone.

At the Workplace Rights Law Group, LLP., we are passionate wage and hour attorneys with 75 years of combined experience in resolving employment disputes.

And our representation is not one-size-fits-all. We listen to you to make sure we tailor our legal services to your unique needs.

We can be your advocates and your support when your livelihood is on the line. Call us at 818-334-6881 or contact us online for a free case review. 


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