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Is it okay to take meal breaks early in CA?

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  • Is it okay to take meal breaks early in CA?

    Hello, we are on a alternative work schedule, 9/80. I have a couple of hourly employees who come in and start their day, then take their lunch within the first 2 to 3 hours of their shift. After they return, they continue about their day. However, that means they will work consecutively 6-7 hours on the back end after lunch.

    May I ask if this is permissible or if this is a meal penalty? Is there anything in place that says they can't go beyond a certain amount of hour after their lunch is taken?

    Example of one workday:

    Employee clocks in at 10AM
    Employee clocks out for lunch at 12PM
    Employee clocks in from lunch at 1PM
    Employee clocks out for the day at 8PM

    Thanks for your help in advance.

  • #2
    CA law is kind of convoluted and it's been 20 years since I had employees there, but if I am reading the break law right this is not okay; they would need a second break in the afternoon.

    Now, that being said, your first break is longer than it needs to be - the breaks only have to be 30 minutes long. You CAN let them take a longer one, but 30 minutes is all the law requires.

    If it were me, I would check directly with the CA DLSE (you can call anonymously) but I would be prepared to be telling your employees that hereafter, they will be taking two half hour breaks and not one hour long one. The fact that you're on a 9/80 schedule just complicates things.
    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.


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