Legal Implications Of A Missed Rest Period

According to the current labor laws of California, the employer must permit nonexempt employees a rest period in the middle of each work period. Every employee is entitled to a 10-minute break for every four-hour period. In fact, anything more than a 2-hour period is considered a `major fraction’ of the four-hour period.

Most importantly, the law requires that the employer pays for the rest breaks. If the employee works during the break, he or she is entitled to additional compensation. However, those employees who work for less than one-half hours are not entitled to rest.


Any person employed in executive or administrative capacity may have their rest periods limited under certain circumstances. In addition, swimmers, skaters, dancers and other employees engaged in strenuous activities must have additional interim rest breaks on top of the general rest periods. Such periods shall be utilized for rehearsal.

In pursuant to labor code 1030, the employees of on-site occupations like mining, logging, and construction can have continuous work operations to avoid disruptions of the work flow. However, the employer is required to schedule for rest periods that coincide with the breaks set forth by the law. Alternatively, the employer can choose to compensate the employees for the missed 10 minute periods.

Rest periods should only take place in the immediate work area or other designated areas by the employer. The employer is required to provide suitable resting facilities like toilets.

Legal Consequences On Rest Periods

In the event that the employer fails to give an employee resting breaks, the employer must pay an additional hour of pay. The rate is based on the regular rate of pay for each workday. If the employer refuses to pay for such breaks, you can file a wage claim. This is done at the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

You can also file a lawsuit in court against your employer with the help of a good attorney. The claim must be filed within 3 years of the alleged rest period violation. When the court rules in the employee’s favor, the DLSE will have the court enter the order, decision or award (ODA) against the employer.

According to the Industrial Welfare Commission, rest periods should not be confused with the time taken by the employee to use toilet facilities. In fact, the employer cannot limit the time an employee is absent from his or her work station when using such facilities. If your employer threatens you for filing a claim, you should file a retaliation complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office.