Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Missed Meals and Rest Breaks: Is it the Employer’s Fault?

Under federal and California law, employees are entitled to enjoy certain privileges as workers, which include meal and rest breaks, among others. An employer who deprives his employee of this right may be held accountable for the violation and will be asked by the court to compensate the employee for any missed breaks.

In the article, “Another Court Of Appeal Holds That To ‘Provide’ Meal And Rest Periods Means "Make Available" , posted on October, 2008, the issue of missed meals and rest breaks were properly addressed. The article, which was based on rulings of both California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, further confirmed the employer’s obligation to provide adequate meal and rest periods for their workers.

Is it the employer’s fault if an employee misses his meal or rest period?

In California, employers are obliged to provide meal and rest periods to their employees. If an employee misses his meal or rest break, despite being given the time to take them, an employer may not be faulted for it.

Rather, employers only need to make sure that meals and rest periods are “made available” or provided to employees. In addition, they should also ensure that workplace rules regarding these breaks comply with current statutes and laws and that these policies are well explained to employees. In sum, employers can only be held liable if employees are denied meal or rest breaks.

An employer who denies such breaks to his employees may be penalized for the violation. According to the California Supreme Court, “the remedy provided in Labor Code section 226.7 constitutes a wage or premium pay and is governed by a three-year statute of limitations and that the trial court properly considered the additional, but related, wage claims during the de novo trial.”

If you believe you have been denied certain employment privileges, you should immediately consult with an experienced labor law attorney to help you with your issues.