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What are Timely Breaks for Essential Workers During COVID-19 Quarantines?

During this pandemic, many essential workers have been asked to work longer hours under unique circumstances, leaving many to wonder whether or not the request infringes upon their rights as an employee. California employment law is detailed and expansive, creating specific regulations regarding longer hours for employees in many industries and situations.

Of note, California law has created regulations that entitle employees to timely meal and rest periods. California's nonexempt employees are entitled to a 10-minute paid rest period, in the middle of each work period, for every 4 hours worked. Furthermore, nonexempt employees are entitled to a 30-minute unpaid meal period for every 5 hours of work.

With this in mind, your employer can schedule you to work longer shifts during the coronavirus pandemic as long as they comply with California’s break and rest period rules. Of course, typical overtime laws will still apply as well. If you are eligible for overtime and work more than 8 hours in a shift or 40 hours in a week, then any work performed after that needs to be compensated at an increased hourly rate.

Can Employers Be Penalized for Break Violations?

Generally, employees wonder what repercussions employers face for failing to provide timely rest and/or meal periods. California law provides that when an employee does not receive a compliant and timely meal/rest period, the employee is entitled to a premium. The amount of that premium can vary from one case to another, but it is always worth pursuing. Not only does a premium provide financial compensation to an employee who has been subjected to a work violation, but it also motivates that employer to take extra steps to not make the same violation in the future.

Do you have more questions about your rights as an essential worker during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? Chung & Ignacio, LLP in Rancho Cucamonga can help. Our experienced attorneys may assist you in determining whether meal and/or rest period violations occurred while you were working and if you are entitled to compensation as a result. We are still hearing from new clients by using remote methods – telephone calls, emails, video teleconferencing, texting, etc. – to communicate and complete casework. Call (909) 726-7112 now to learn more.