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California Supreme Court Rules Premium Pay for Missed Meal, Rest Breaks Are Wages

BY: Mavanee Anderson, Esq. | 06/10/22

The California Supreme Court determined that premium payments made to employees for missed meal and rest breaks are considered wage payments for purposes of pay statement and payment on termination requirements [Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc., No. S258966 (Calif., 5-23-22)].

The premium pay of an additional hour of pay is required by California law when an employer requires an employee to work during all or part of required meal or rest breaks.

According to the opinion, the premium pay compensates the employee for work performed during a meal break period in addition to compensating the employee for the unlawful deprivation of a guaranteed break. This means the extra pay constitutes wages subject to the same timing and reporting rules as other types of compensation paid for work performed.

The premium pay must be reported on the itemized pay statement required under state law. It also means meal and rest break premium pay must be paid with other wages owed to the employee at the time of an involuntary termination or at the time of a voluntary termination if the employee has given at least 72 hours’ prior notice. It must be paid within 72 hours of when the employee quits if the employee has not given prior notice.

California employers are allowed to require employees to work during the required meal and rest breaks if the nature of the job requires it, but there must be a signed agreement between the employer and employee in place. Even if there is an agreement in place and on-duty meal or rest breaks are allowed under the law, the premium must still be paid.

Interested in more state and local payroll coverage? APA’s PayState Update eNewsletter is perfect for you.


Mavanee Anderson, Esq., is Editor of PayState Update and Payroll Information Resources for the APA.