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Can your employer call you during your break?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Wage & Hour Law

California employment laws give you a lot of protection as an employee. Yet, if you do not understand them, your employer may well take advantage.

One area of employment that features clear rules and regulations involves rest breaks and meal breaks. One way that some employers violate these is by expecting their employees to pick up the phone for work-related reasons during these breaks.

Answering a call interrupts your downtime

Breaks are meant to give you a mental respite from work as well as a physical one. While that’s not always possible, as you may well still be in your workplace where it can be hard to ignore the things going on around you, your employer cannot be calling you up. Nor can they allow others to call you up about work matters during your breaks.

You should be able to leave your place of employment and otherwise “turn off” until your break ends. Contacting you via your personal phone is also not acceptable. If your employer forgets and interrupts your break, they should restart the clock so you can get the full uninterrupted break you are due.

You are entitled to duty free breaks

Some people in very specific professions may be exempt from these rules under unique circumstances. A paramedic, for example, may still need to answer their phones during a break – because doing so could be a life-or-death situation for someone. However, most employers need to allow its non-exempt employees to take uninterrupted breaks, free from the employer’s control, for a period of at least 30-minutes for meal breaks and a period of at least 10 minutes for rest breaks.

You may also be entitled to additional types of breaks during workday. For example, your employer must provide you with information about recovery periods and allow you to take as many breaks you need to cool down, on a shaded area, when you work outside and the temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit. These high-heat breaks or recovery breaks cannot be skipped or interrupted because the employee can suffer serious illness.

If you are unsure about what rules affect you in your employment, or have issues with your employer not respecting your breaks, or allowing you to take your breaks when you need them, consider getting legal help to explore your options.