Can an employee opt out of mandatory breaks? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Can an employee opt out of mandatory breaks?

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Q. An employee has asked to work through his two daily 10-minute rest periods because he would like to leave work 20 minutes early. Are we permitted to implement this arrangement upon his request?

A. No. California employees covered by the rest-period provisions of the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders must receive a net 10-minute paid rest period for every four hours worked or major fraction thereof. However, working through a rest period does not entitle employees to leave work early or arrive late.

The rule for meal periods is slightly different. “On duty” meal periods (in which employees are not relieved of all duties) are permitted only when the nature of the work prevents an employee from being relieved of all duties and when—by written agreement between the employer and employee—an on-the-job paid meal period is agreed to.


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