Nurses and health care workers have notoriously busy shifts, especially in a hospital setting. However, if you work as a nurse, the law entitles you to certain break and rest periods.
Learn more about the California break and rest laws for health care workers to ensure your fair treatment on the job.
Meal break requirements
California employers must provide a 30-minute uninterrupted meal break after an employee has worked for at least 5 consecutive hours. This law applies to nurses as well as other health care workers. For a shift that lasts longer than 10 hours, the employer must offer a second meal break. However, the worker can decline this second break if the shift will last fewer than 12 hours.
Under federal law, you do not have to receive payment for your meal break as long as it lasts at least 30 minutes, even if you cannot leave the job site during that time. However, you must receive payment if your employer requires you to continue working during a meal break. In this case, California law requires the worker to agree to this arrangement in writing.
Rest break requirements
Federal law requires employers to pay their workers for breaks lasting between 5 and 20 minutes. Under California law, workers must receive at least one break of at least 10 minutes for every four work hours. Nurses and other workers can choose to waive these breaks but must have a written agreement with their employer in order to do so.
California nurses and health care workers have legal recourse when employers do not provide meal and rest breaks in accordance with state and federal law. State law requires employers to pay workers an hour of regular pay for each day on which a meal or rest break violation occurred. Federal law prevents employers from firing workers who report this type of wage or hour violation.