California Law on Rest Periods Labor Code section 226.7

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Taking a breather at work – it’s your right!

Most employees are extremely conscientious about work, with many putting countless hours over and above their stipulated working hours. The California Law on Rest Periods: Labor Code section 226.7 however offers you the legal right to stop all work and take a breather, without guilt or fear of recrimination by your employer. It’s your right, and you are entitled to it!

Some employers might make their employees feel guilty about “goofing off” while at work. But what employees need to understand is that such breaks are essential for their own health and safety. If they are denied the required number of rest periods then the employer could face Labor code penalties.

Getting paid while resting

Many employees might not realize it, but depending on the number of continuous hours that they work, they are entitled to one or more rest periods during their work day.  California Law on Rest Periods: Labor Code section 226.7  (a) stipulates that “No employer shall require any employee to work during any meal or rest period mandated by an applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission.”.

What does this mean for you? It means you have the right to get paid, even though you are not working during the rest period. Your employer must provide you such paid rest breaks of at least 10 minutes, depending on how long your work day is. The general rule is:

You get this

many rest periods

…if you work this

many hours in a day












This law mandates that the employer not only pay you for your breaks, but they are also required to implement procedures that inform and educate employees of such rights, and encourage a culture that permits them to exercise these rights in full.

What can you do?

The California Law on Rest Periods: Labor Code section 226.7 guarantees you a premium payment equal to 1 additional hour of pay, at your regular rate of compensation, for each workday that you are denied the rest period. The time you spend not taking your rest breaks must be counted as “hours worked” on your paycheck stub.

If you are denied this right, there are either one of two courses of action that you can take. You may opt to file a claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office at the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Alternately, you may choose to file a lawsuit in a court of law against your employer to recover the premium owed to you.

Getting help

Not every employee is savvy about their legal rights as an employee, or about how to lodge a wage claim with DLSE, or about filing a suite. Each employee’s circumstances are unique, and the employer’s infringement of Section 226.7 (a) will depend upon the work environment and the terms of employment. At, you will get all the help you need to proceed with the most appropriate course of action, depending on your individual circumstances.

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