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Can Interrupted Lunch Breaks Qualify For Overtime?

The law requires all employees to get paid for all hours worked and ensure they are given rest and meal breaks in between. But what happens to employees whose lunch breaks are interrupted with work from their bosses, such as answering a call at reception or attending an emergent work? Can such time qualify for overtime? Such a scenario has led up to many lawsuits. If your employer is not providing a 30minute break once you have worked for 5 hours, then he/she may be doing this against the employment law lunch breaks.

Can Worked Lunch Break Qualify As Overtime?

Whether one should be paid for overtime because of working during lunch breaks depends on the nature of one’s work. In California, the time worked during lunch break is not factored in overtime calculations. Paying lunch is not a legal retirement, though many California employees do so. Overtime is time an employee works in addition to the normal working hours. But this doesn’t mean that the time you skip off lunch to work will be included as overtime. To receive overtime in California, an employee must:

  • Have worked for more than 8 hours in a day
  • If any employee works for 12 hours a day, then they must receive double time.
  • If the hours worked in a week are more than 40, an employee is entitled to a time and a half.
  • For the 7th day, an employee is entitled to time and a half of the first 8 hours worked and double-time for any additional hours.

Not every work earns employee overtime. However, if you are a non-exempt employee, you can be sure of receiving overtime. But in California, employees are always misclassified as being exempt. This is an offensive mistake that gives rise to overtime litigation. Therefore, it would be better to consult with an experienced employment attorney to determine whether your nature of work requires you to receive overtime.

Your Employer Can Provide An On-Duty Meal Period

Your employer is not supposed to pay for your meal breaks. But if the employee’s nature of work renders them incapable of taking a break from their duties, the employer may provide an on-duty meal period, which must be paid for. But an employee must have agreed to work on their meal break, and this should be in writing. If your employer requests you to eat at your desk and wait for the phone to ring or any client to arrive, this time must be paid for. You should be completely relieved of any duty. If the interrupted lunch breaks become the norm, your employer must pay you for the hours worked.

Getting Help From An Employment Lawyer

Your employer is obligated to make lunch breaks available, but he/she should not force you to take lunch. If you feel your employer denies your wages for worked lunch breaks, you need to take legal action. Employees need to understand the law and ensure they are paid all the wages they have earned. For more information on lunch breaks, contact an experienced employment lawyer.

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