For many people, their break period is a welcome time. It helps break up the work day and provides a chance to shake off any stress for at least a few minutes.
In a lot of states, breaks are not something the law requires, but in California, state employment law does mandate break periods for most employees.
The basic rules
California law requires most employers to provide employees with a ten-minute break after working for four hours. The law specifies breaks are mandatory for those working at least a four-hour period, which it defines as being 3.5 hours or more. Employees must receive pay for this ten-minute break, which may occur twice in a work day if the person works seven or more hours.
Employers also must provide an unpaid, 30-minute break in the middle of the work day. This does not take the place of the ten-minute mandatory breaks.
The law provides exceptions for work situations where allowing workers to have breaks would be detrimental to the business. They must provide breaks, but they do not have to follow the timing rules.
Breastfeeding workers have the right to longer periods of breaks and private break areas to express breastmilk throughout their work day. Employers must allow this but do not have to pay for time beyond the mandated ten-minute break periods.
Employers should understand break laws in California as they differ quite a bit from many other states. As a worker, you have the right to speak up if your employer is not providing breaks as mandated by law.