How Many Hours Are Required Between Shifts in California?

how many hours between shifts legally

You just got home from a long day at work when the phone rings.

It’s your manager and he “hates” to bug you, but someone just called in sick.

He needs you to cover their shift that night. You tell him that you’re dead tired after working all day.

He tells you to take a nap for an hour and then come back to work.

As you hang up the phone, your thoughts may range from thinking about getting a new job to wondering, Is it even legal to make me pull two shifts?

How Many Hours Between Shifts Is Legal in California?

Unfortunately, California labor laws do not require a minimum number of hours between shifts. But they do offer some important protections in related areas. For example, California does require meal and rest breaks.

Meal Breaks

California requires most employers to give their employees meal breaks. You can usually take a 30-minute meal if you’re working more than five hours.

If you’re working less than six hours, you may be able to waive the meal if you want to. If you work 10 hours or more, you can take a second meal break.

You can also waive this second meal break, but only if you are working less than 12 hours total.

Rest Periods

California also requires most employers to provide paid rest breaks to their employees. You can usually take 10 minutes of rest for every four hours that you work.

So if you work an eight-hour shift, you can probably take a 10-minute break. But you might not be entitled to a rest period if you’re working less than three and a half hours.

You could have the right to take your rest period offsite if you choose. Additional time may be available if you are nursing and need to express breast milk.

Overtime

So, maybe you have to go in. You are entitled to a fair wage. If you’re not an exempt employee, over the age of 18, and authorized to work overtime, you may be entitled to overtime pay.

Under California law, if you work more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, you could be owed one and a half times your regular rate of pay for any hours worked above the first eight.

You may also be eligible for time and a half for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a week.

If you work more than 12 hours, you could be owed twice your regular rate of pay for any hours worked above the first 12 each day.

Working more than eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work in a week may also entitle you to double your regular rate. 

Being under 18 does not always mean you’re ineligible for overtime. If your employer made you work overtime despite these factors, then you might still be able to collect overtime pay.

Exemptions

Unfortunately, overtime regulations don’t apply to everyone. Certain employees are exempt.

Some of the common exemptions include executive, administrative, and professional employees such as senior management, administrators, and attorneys.

Another common exemption is for certain computer software employees.

There’s a pervasive myth that simply being salaried exempts you from overtime, but that is not necessarily true. You can be salaried and still get overtime pay if you’re not exempt.

What if My Employer Violates My Rights?

If your employer is not allowing you to take proper breaks or paying you overtime, you may have a claim against them.

Contact Ottinger Employment Lawyers today. Our experienced team has years of experience fighting to protect workers’ rights. Don’t let your employer get away with violating California law.

FAQ

What are the minimum hours required between shifts in California?

California does not have a minimum amount of hours between shifts. Most workers are entitled to a 10-minute break for every four hours they work.

How many back-to-back shifts are legal for a person to work in California?

There is not a cap on the number of shifts you can work in California, but you may have other rights. Working split shifts may entitle you to a premium.

Who is exempt from overtime in California?

Certain employees including executive, administrative, and professional employees may be exempt from overtime regulations.

Author Photo

Robert Ottinger, Esq.

Robert Ottinger is an employment attorney who focuses on representing executives and employees in employment disputes. Before starting his firm, Robert slugged it out in courtrooms trying cases for the government. Robert served as a Deputy Attorney General for the California Department of Justice in Los Angeles and then as Assistant Attorney General for the New York Attorney General’s Office in Manhattan.

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