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California sick leave, meal periods and rest breaks

Navigating the landscape of employment laws in California requires understanding the latest regulations that protect workers’ rights. For example, recent developments concerning sick leave, meal periods and rest breaks are all provisions that have recently been revised or otherwise clarified in the state’s laws.

These provisions are designed to enhance the quality of work life for Californians. They reflect the state’s commitment to maintaining a balanced and fair work environment.

Sick leave

As of January 1, 2024, California has a new standard requiring employers to provide at least 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to most workers. This policy ensures that employees can address their health concerns or care for sick family members, contributing to a healthier workplace and reducing the spread of illness.

Meal periods

In California, the law mandates that employees are entitled to meal periods based on their work hours. Employees must be given a meal break of at least 30 minutes for shifts exceeding five hours. However, if the total work period is no more than six hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and the employee.

For shifts longer than 10 hours, a second meal break of at least 30 minutes is required, which can also be waived if the total hours worked are not more than 12 hours and the first meal period was not waived. These meal breaks are unpaid unless the employee must work through their meal period or is required to remain on the premises, in which case they must be compensated.

Rest breaks

Rest breaks are another crucial aspect of California’s employment laws. Employees are entitled to paid rest periods for every four hours worked or a significant fraction thereof.

Workers should receive a 10-minute rest break for shifts from 3.5 to 6 hours. Additional breaks are required for longer shifts. Failing to provide adequate rest breaks can lead to penalties, including paying the employee one hour of pay at their regular rate for each workday for which the rest period wasn’t provided.

Employees who don’t receive required sick leave, meal periods, or rest breaks can take legal action. Seeking legal assistance is often beneficial, as a skilled legal team can explain one’s specific rights and help employees move forward with their case as efficiently and effectively as possible.

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