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Summary of Meal & Rest Period Requirements

Including: Meal & Rest Period Chart


Agricultural employers face huge penalties for failing to authorize and permit rest periods or meal periods as specified in orders of the California Industrial Welfare Commission. It is extremely important for supervisors to know the number of rest periods3 and meal periods to which employees are entitled.

To aid FELS subscribers in that regard, below is a table that states the number of rest periods and meal periods employees must be allowed for the number of hours worked in a workday.

FELS Subscribers click here to access Rest & Meal Period chart.

Wage Order 14 requires the following rest and meal breaks:

Meal Periods:
  • Employer shall authorize and permit all covered employees after a work period of not more than five (5) hours to take a meal period.
  • The meal period shall not be less than 30 minutes.
  • If a work period of not more than six (6) hours will complete the day’s work, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of employer and employee.
  • Unless the employee is relieved of all duty during a 30-minute meal period, the meal period shall be considered an on-duty meal period and counted as time worked.
  • An on-duty meal period shall be permitted only when the nature of the work prevents an employee from being relieved of all duty and when by written agreement between the parties an on-the-job paid meal period is agreed to. The written agreement shall state that the employee may, in writing, revoke the agreement at any time. 
Rest Periods:
  • Every employer shall authorize and permit all covered employees to take rest periods.
  • As far as is practicable the rest period shall be in the middle of each work period (the entire shift as split by one or more meal periods).
  • The authorized rest period time shall be based on the total hours worked daily at the rate of ten (10) minutes net rest time per four (4) hours or major fraction thereof.  
  • In general, this means an employee is entitled to 10 minutes’ rest for shifts of 3.5 to six hours, 20 minutes’ rest for shifts of more than six and up to 10 hours, 30 minutes’ rest for shifts of more than 10 and up to 14 hours, and so on.
  • A rest period need not be authorized for employees whose total daily work time is less than three and one-half (3 1/2) hours.
  • Authorized rest period time shall be counted as hours worked for which there shall be no deduction from wages.
Order 13 requirements are as follows:

Meal Periods:

  • No employer shall employ any covered person for a work period of more than five (5) hours without a meal period of not less than 30 minutes.
  • The meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and employee if a work period of not more than six (6) hours will complete the day’s work.
  • An employer may not employ an employee for a work period of more than ten (10) hours per day without providing the employee with a second meal period of not less than 30 minutes.
  • If the total hours worked is no more than 12 hours, the second meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and the employee if the first meal period was not waived.
  • Unless the employee is relieved of all duty during a 30-minute meal period, the meal period shall be considered an on-duty meal period and counted as time worked. An on-duty‖meal period shall be permitted only when the nature of the work prevents an employee from being relieved of all duty and when by written agreement between the parties an on-the-job paid meal period is agreed to. The written agreement shall state that the employee may, in writing, revoke the agreement at any time.

Rest Periods:


  • Every employer shall authorize and permit all covered employees to take rest periods, which insofar as practicable shall be in the middle of each work period (the shift as split by one or more meal periods).
  • The authorized rest period time shall be based on the total hours worked daily at the rate of ten (10) minutes net rest time per four (4) hours or major fraction thereof.
  • In general, this means an employee is entitled to 10 minutes’ rest for shifts of 3.5 to six hours, 20 minutes’ rest for shifts of more than six and up to 10 hours, 30 minutes’ rest for shifts of more than 10 and up to 14 hours, and so on.
  • A rest period need not be authorized for employees whose total daily work time is less than three and one-half (3 1/2) hours.
  • Authorized rest period time shall be counted as hours worked for which there shall be no deduction from wages.