The California State Supreme Court issued a decision today to define employers’ obligations concerning their employees’ mealtime. Some confusion was inherent in California’s meal break laws, which state that employers must give employees a 30-minute meal break per every 10-hour-or-fewer shift. Employers weren’t sure, however, whether employees must abstain from all work during the 30-minutes and whether it was the employers’ problem to ensure that they do. Today’s ruling makes it clear: employers must provide employees with the ability to take a 30-minute lunch break, but if an employee decides to work straight through anyway, well, that’s their prerogative.
So, employers are let off the hook and employees must be the ones to make sure they don’t overwork themselves. The pressure to meet deadlines and maximize performance won’t influence low-level employees’ “decisions” to skip lunch at all. Sounds like a step in the right direction. Full disclosure: I usually eat lunch and do a little work at my desk, so I might be biased. The whipping is a little much, but motivation is motivation!