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Are meal breaks supposed to be paid?

In 20 states, there are laws regarding required meal breaks. California is one of those states. For most people, it’s normal to have a 30-minute break in the middle of the work day. Some individuals are exempted from mealtime breaks, such as professional employees, administrative employees and outside salespeople. Construction workers, private security officers and commercial drivers may also be exempt.

If you’ve been working and notice that you’re asked to clock out for your breaks, that might make you question if you are being paid fairly. Here are some interesting facts about breaks in California.

In California, your employer can’t ask you to work for longer than five hours without a break of at least 30 minutes. If your total workday isn’t longer than six hours, then you may decide to waive your meal break with the mutual consent of your employer. If you work for more than 10 hours, then you should receive another 30-minute break, but you can also waive this if you and your employer agree, and you will work no longer than 12 hours.

These meal breaks don’t need to be paid unless considered to be on-duty meal breaks due to the nature of your job. If you have to work in any form during your break, then it may be considered on-duty. You should also be paid for meal breaks that are 10-minute rests. Employers must allow you to have a paid 10-minute break for every four hours that you work.

If you have questions about your paycheck, it’s smart to speak with your employer first. If they cannot give you an answer for money you’re missing, then you may want to consult with your attorney.

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