California Law on Meal Periods Labor Code section 226.7

Breaking for a Meal at work – it’s your right!

The California Law on Meal Periods: Labor Code section 226.7 guarantees employees a certain amount of time during the work period, when they can take a break to have their meals, unencumbered by any rules enforced by an employer.  Labor Code section 226.7 provides these assurances so employees can legally step away from their busy work schedules, and pause from work activities without feeling guilty. It is a right granted to you under protection of the law. And if you are denied that right by your employer, then you need to ensure you take remedial action immediately!

Think of this right (not a privilege!) in terms of the performance of your work duties. By taking a 30 minute break during a consecutive 5-hour work stint, or 2 30 minute breaks if you work over 10 hours, you not only rejuvenate yourself, but it also helps you perform and focus better when you return from your break.  Section 226.7 therefore offers a win-win for both employers and employees alike.

Denying you your right

Some employers however don’t see it that way. They try to use legal loopholes, and the employee’s ignorance of the law, to usurp the California Law on Meal Periods: Labor Code section 226.7. While Section 203 is clear about employers allowing at least 2 meal breaks if an employee works more than 10 hours per day, in most cases (and there are exceptions to the rule), and a single break if the work day is more than 5 hours, these directives are not always obeyed. Unscrupulous employers think that making employees work continuously throughout the day might add to their profits. But that’s not true! An un-rested employee might be the cause of workplace accidents and health and safety incidents.

Further, most employees might not know this, even if the employer relieves them of all work duties during the break, but requires them to remain at the work site while on break, the meal period must be paid for. Denying you of these rights mean the employer may be subject to labor code penalties.

Help is here!

It is not easy to understand what recourse you may have if you feel your rights are being trampled, or to figure out how many premium payments you might be entitled to if you work during your breaks. For instance, a California appellate court recently awarded an employee 2 premium payments (United Parcel Service, Inc. v. Superior Court), on account of a rest and a meal break being missed on the same day.

Scott Miller, Attorney has many years of Labor and Employment law experience. He can help you get the compensation you deserve. So if you feel your employer is denying you a lawful break, then give yourself a break and contact Mr. Miller at for an initial consultation. Protect yourself. You may be entitled to more compensation that you think!

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