Monthly Archives: September 2011

Do I get a rest break at work?

I’m an hourly employee.  Doesn’t my jerk boss have to give me a rest break?  What if he doesn’t?

Yes, you’re entitled to a break! That jerk is in for some serious suits if he doesn’t! And I don’t mean clothing. I mean lawsuits. California law states that any hourly employees that have not been provided at least a 10 minute rest period for every 4 hours of work, that employee is entitled to one hour of pay.  And my boss can’t require me to work during my break, obviously.  He can, however, require me to stay on the premises. CA Labor Code § 226.7.

For example: If I make $30/hr and my boss doesn’t let me take a 10 minute break within a 3.5 – 4hr period, my boss is supposed to compensate me with one hour of pay ($30) on top of the hours I worked that day.

I know what you’re telling yourself right now. “I’m not going to sue my boss for $30 bucks, you idiot.”

True. However, you might want to sue your boss if I let you in on a little secret. That $30 penalty applies per day. And if you add them all up, that could be a lot of money. Let say you’ve been denied a rest break every day for the past three years.  You could be owed $22,500.

That might be worth suing over…. If you add that to a few other wage and hour violations, that number could hit $100,000 with ease. That might motivate you to talk to an employment attorney.

A few more details on rest breaks:

The break must be a paid break. Your boss can’t deduct 10 minutes from your hours every time you go for a smoke, stretch, or stroll.  Also, to the extent possible, you have to take the break near the middle of each work period. This is flexible, though. Lastly, you don’t have to take the break if you don’t want (provided your boss isn’t ‘encouraging’ or forcing you not too).

With that said…keep up the good work.


Branigan Robertson is a California employment lawyer who exclusively represents employees in workplace disputes. He focuses his practice on sexual harassment, wage & hour, wrongful termination, and retaliation. Visit his website at or call his office at 949.667.3025.


Filed under Rest Breaks, Wages and Hours