If you work in California and you are paid per hour, you may be confused about your entitlements under the law. For example, if you work a 12-hour shift, you will obviously need to have breaks so that you can eat and drink as well as visit the restroom.

Many California workers are confused about whether they have the right to take these breaks, and if they should be paid for this time. If you are paid per hour, make sure that you take the time to understand your rights, since you may be owed back pay if you were not paid for certain breaks in the past. The following is an overview of the wage and hour laws in California.

What breaks am I entitled to?

For every four hours worked, employees are entitled to a 10-minute paid rest period. This should ideally take place in the middle of the work period. For example, if you have a four-hour work period, you should be able to work two hours, take a 10-minute break, and then work a further 1 hour 50 minutes.

If you work more than five consecutive hours, you also have the right to an unpaid, 30-minute meal period. In the motion picture industry, you are only able to claim this unpaid rest period if you work for six consecutive hours.

What happens if my employer refuses to give me these breaks?

These paid and unpaid breaks are legal requirements in California. Therefore, if your employer refuses to give you this time, they can be charged $50 for each employee per each pay period that violates these laws. If they violate the law again they will be fined $100 for each violation. They will also owe employees back pay.

If you believe that your wage and hour law rights have been violated, take action to gain the back pay that you deserve.