Fair work breaks for factory workers – that’s what California law requires. All workers are entitled to periodic breaks and, in many cases, meal breaks. However, many factory workers are exploited and denied fair work breaks… and that’s against the law.
What Are Fair Work Breaks?
In California, employers have to provide meal and rest breaks for employees. Here’s the breakdown on rest and meal breaks:
- One 10-minute rest break during a shift that’s between 3.5 hours and 6 hours long
- Two 10-minute rest breaks during a shift that’s between 6 hours and 10 hours long
- One 30-minute meal break during a shift that lasts more than 5 hours
- Two 30-minute meal breaks during a shift that lasts more than 10 hours
(Learn more about what California law says about rest breaks.)
What Are Rest Break Violations?
Employees’ rest breaks must be paid, which means an employer can’t force a worker to clock out for his or her 10-minute break. An employer can’t make you work during any of these breaks, either, although you can choose to skip one if you want to (provided that you haven’t been “encouraged” by a supervisor to skip it). During your break time, you should have the freedom to leave your desk or immediate work area, and you should be able to set your work aside for that 10-minute period.
If your employer requires you to work through your breaks without providing them later, you could have legal recourse.
What About Breastfeeding?
If a mother is lactating, employers also must provide a “reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for the employee’s infant child.” This type of break, which your employer must give you, can be unpaid.
What Are Meal Break Violations?
When an employer doesn’t allow an employee to take a meal break, it’s a meal break violation. Even asking the employee to continue working through lunch – even if he or she is eating while working – is also a meal break violation.
The key is that all meal breaks must be uninterrupted time while the worker is off-duty. That’s a fair work break.
Factory and Warehouse Workers Being Denied Fair Work Breaks
Several major companies have been accused of exploiting warehouse and factory workers (including Amazon, which unfairly shaved wages from thousands of employees’ paychecks), so it’s not uncommon – and if it’s happened to you, you might be entitled to financial compensation. Your best bet is to talk to a Glendale employee rights lawyer who can evaluate your case.
Factory and Warehouse Employers’ Responsibilities for Rest Breaks
Your employer is legally required to provide you with rest breaks. If your employer interrupts your rest break to make you work, they must pay you an hour’s worth of your regular pay, which must be included in your next paycheck.
Employers’ Responsibilities for Factory Workers’ Lunch Breaks
Likewise, your employer has to provide you with at least an unpaid lunch break (and if you have a job that doesn’t allow you to stop for lunch, your employer has to pay you for a working lunch – but you have to agree to it in writing).
For most people, the lunch break is unpaid. However, in order to be legal, your employer must:
- Completely relieve you from duty
- Let you leave and doesn’t control your activities
- Allows you a reasonable opportunity to have an uninterrupted, 30-minute break
- Doesn’t discourage or prevent you from taking your break
What to Do if Your Employer Violates Your Rights to Fair Work Breaks
We may be able to help you get compensation if you have been denied fair work breaks while working in a warehouse or factory. Call us at 818-617-9712 or get in touch with us online so we can review your case and start developing a plan of action that gets you the best possible outcome.