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Disagreement about Breaks in CA California

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  • Disagreement about Breaks in CA California

    Our boss states that since we can and do take personal phone calls, use the internet to check our mail etc, and also have free coffee, refreshments and cookies available at all times in the break room, that it is our responsibilty to count any time taking calls, internet getting coffee visiting with other employees etc. as breaks.

    Is he correct? We are a medical office and have a steady patient flow, he claims that a " formal" scheduled break is unworkable.

    He also stated that If we don't like the way it is set up they can not allow personal calls, shut off the internet and simply state an arbitrary time as our break.

    Can they do this?

  • #2
    Breaks, in general, need to be uninterrupted. However, I don't know whether any CBA or industry exception exists.
    My intention is not to argue over who is wrong/right. I am here for the discussion and to learn and teach. If you dislike what I have to say or think I question you when I shouldn't, then by all means add me to your ignore list.


    • #3
      He also stated that If we don't like the way it is set up they can not allow personal calls, shut off the internet and simply state an arbitrary time as our break.

      He can unquestionably do this. No law requires that he allow you to take/make personal calls or give you access to the internet. And as long as you receive the time required by state law within the required timeframes, he can pick an arbitrary time and require you to take your break at that time.

      Whether or not he is correct about the way he is handling it now, however, I will defer to Megan, Barry and/or tpass1
      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


      • #4
        I agree with cbg. However, allow me to add the following comments:

        1. If you are entitled to a 10-minute, rest break, it should be of an uninterrupted period and it should occur approximately half-way between every 4 hour shift (e.g., the 2 hour mark). Your employer can formally schedule when the break will be taken (e.g., 10:00am - 10:10am) or your employer can leave it to your discretion to take the break when you want. From my experience, most employees prefer to have the flexibility of taking their breaks when they want.

        2. An employer can not reduce your break time by counting the fractional minutes you spend using the restroom facilities during the day. Similarly, if you go to the break room and snag one of those free cookies and walk directly back to your desk, your employer can not reduce your legally-mandated, 10-minute break for the 1 minute you spent stretching your legs.

        3. However, from my experience, most if not all of the activities you mentioned are hard to accomplish in less than 10 minutes. When was the last time you logged onto the internet for personal purposes and didn't spend at least 10 minutes "goofing off?" Heck, it took me 10 minutes to read and respond to your question. My point: If you really analyze the situation, you may find that you are receiving more than your legally-required breaks.

        Break time is over. Everyone, get back to work now
        Barry S. Phillips, CPA

        IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: This response is intended to provide general information and written for educational purposes only. It does not establish a client relationship. This communication is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to any party any matters addressed herein.


        • #5
          And from a practical standpoint, if you claim in a lawsuit that you don't get rest breaks, but admit that you make personal calls and check your email, the jury is not likely to be on your side.

          I would let it go.

          Now, meal breaks are a different matter. I am assuming that you are completely relieved of duties for at least 30 minutes for lunch.
          Megan E. Ross, Esq.
          Law Offices of Michael Tracy

          Disclaimer: The above response is a general statement of the law and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It only assumes the facts that are stated in the message. The above response does not serve to form an attorney-client relationship.


          The forum is intended for informational use only and should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for legal advice. The information contained on are opinions and suggestions of members and is not a representation of the opinions of does not warrant or vouch for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any postings or the qualifications of any person responding. Please consult a legal expert or seek the services of an attorney in your area for more accuracy on your specific situation.