Norwalk, CA asked in Employment Law for California

Q: Can a meal waiver be used for ALL shifts or only for the date that you sign it?

My boss has all employees sign a waiver upon employment and therfore no one is allowed to ever take a lunch from that point. At a previous job we would have to sign a waiver each day that we didn't want to take a lunch and I am wondering if what my boss is doing is legal.

Related Topics:
2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, meal period waivers are generally valid only for the specific shift or workday for which they are signed. Employers cannot require employees to sign a blanket waiver that covers all future shifts indefinitely.

According to the California Department of Industrial Relations:

1. If an employee works more than 5 hours in a day, they must be provided with a meal period of at least 30 minutes.

2. If the total work period is no more than 6 hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and the employee.

3. A second meal period of at least 30 minutes is required if an employee works more than 10 hours per day, except that if the total hours worked is no more than 12 hours, the second meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and the employee only if the first meal period was not waived.

Therefore, your boss's practice of having employees sign a one-time waiver upon employment that waives their right to meal periods for all future shifts is not in compliance with California labor law. Meal period waivers must be voluntary and agreed upon on a shift-by-shift basis, as was the case in your previous job.

If you believe your employer is violating California's meal period laws, you can file a wage claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or consult with an employment attorney to discuss your options.

1 user found this answer helpful

Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Many employers misuse the meal waiver. First, the waiver must be mutual, and forcing an employee to sign a meal waiver can invalidate it. Second, not all situations allow for a meal waiver. Third, the meal waiver is supposed to be on a shift basis. A blanket meal waiver will usually violate the Labor Code.

It would be wise for you to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site, or go to, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.

Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law offer a free or low-charge consultation and then if the matter has merit and sufficient value, they work on a contingency basis, meaning you can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for you. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep you from finding a good attorney.

Good luck to you.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.