Under California law, employers are required to allow employees to take rest breaks or rest periods throughout the work day. At a bare minimum, you are entitled to a 10 minute break for every 4 hours you work and this break should generally be taken toward the middle of the work period. If you work more than 6 hours and less than 8 hours you are also entitled to a second 10 minute rest break in the middle of that work period.
These breaks are actually paid time that you are entitled to, as a result your employer may require that you stay at the work site during the break but they cannot deny you these rest periods, or deduct the time for them from your wages. In some situations your employer may stager individual breaks so that the business is not interrupted and this is legal so long as there is a reasonable justification for staggering the breaks and you are not denied your rest time.
Do bathroom breaks count?
I regularly hear from potential clients that their employers had told them that they cannot take bathroom breaks outside of the 10 minute breaks they are entitled to by law. Under California law, employees are entitled to take a break to use the bathroom whenever they need to, so long as they are doing so in a reasonable manner. That means that if you drink coffee on the way to work and need to use the restroom an hour after you arrive, your employer cannot deny you that right and cannot dock that time against your 10 minute rest break.
Your employer also cannot make rules about how frequently you can use the restroom. Each person is different and individual bathroom needs are well documented and supported by law. So if you need to go more frequently, your employer cannot discriminate or punish you for that.
Knowing your rights is the first step to protecting them. If your employer has denied you your rest breaks, has tried to force you to use the restroom only during your 10 minute rest breaks or discriminated because you need to use the restroom frequently due to a medical condition, you may be entitled to compensation.
I offer free, no obligation consultations for clients who’ve been wrongfully denied their rest breaks and would be happy to discuss your case today.