I'm reflecting on my experiences from many years ago, when I worked in a restaurant in California. A common shift would have me clock in at 11am, work until 640pm, then punch out for two consecutive 10 minute breaks followed by a 30 minute break. I would then punch out and go home at 730. This was pretty exhausting, and it was very annoying that I was just sitting around the restaurant for an extra hour at the end of my shift, instead of going home. I would be paid 8 hours (no OT), even though I had to stay at the restaurant for 8.5 consecutive hours.

My question then is, was this legal? I understand that for an 8 hour shift I am owed those breaks, and that any time over 8 hours in one day is considered overtime. It was explained to me that because the half-hour break is unpaid, it doesn't factor into overtime calculations in any way. Is that correct?

Edit: I should clarify that I was paid for the two 10-minute breaks. They had a system where you had to tell the computer system that you were going on your (ten minute or half hour) break, and we the crew just called that clocking out, but we were still paid for those tens.

3 Answers 3


You worked from 11:00am to 06:40pm without breaks. You didn't get breaks, so you have to be paid for 7 hours 40 minutes. The time from 06:40pm to 07:30pm when you were allowed to leave is also not a break. A break interrupts your work, this doesn't, so you should be paid for these 50 minutes as well. That's a total of 8 hours 30 minutes that they need to pay you.

I know this was in the past, but there is quite a long time where they have to pay salaries they are owed. If it's less than 6 years, you might think about contacting an employment lawyer. 50 minutes a day over several years might be a considerable amount of money. (And on top of that, they 100% deserve it, because there was no reasonable reason at all to keep you there for the extra 50 minutes, except they were trying to hide that they didn't give you the legally required breaks).

  • Unfortunately this all happened about ten years ago now, and that location has since closed
    – Izzy
    Sep 22, 2023 at 13:14

Under current California labor law, you cannot be required to clock out for rest breaks (10 minutes for 3.5-6 hours, 2 10 minute breaks for 6-10 hours). A "break" means that you can't be required to work (you are allowed, if you want to, but you can't be required to). Forcing you to take your breaks at the end of the shift is not legal, and requiring you to stay on site without compensation. This page gives more details on various California meal and break laws, but the short version is that what you describe is illegal (now: when you experienced it, it might have been legal).


Illegal in

German labor law is strict when it comes to breaks: ArbZG §4 dictates 30 minutes break for anyone that works 6-9 hours and 45 minutes of break time for 9-10 hours - which is the absolute maximum allowable under [ArbZG §3][2]. Breaks are at least 15 minutes, and you can not work more than 6 hours in a row without a break.

If you start at 11AM, you have to take a break of 15 minutes at the latest at 5 PM, and the rest of your break needs to be done before you clock out too. Breaktime is not work time, so for 8 hours of work time, you are present for 8.5 hours.

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