You might make a decent living through commission-based or piece-rate compensation. Whether you’re entitled to a paid rest break may have never crossed your mind. However, California law requires employers to provide employees with a separately paid rest break, even for employees who may not earn an hourly wage.
How long is a rest break?
Under the law, you’re entitled to a paid, 10-minute rest break for every four hours you work. If you work three-and-half hours or less on a shift, your employer does not have to provide you with a paid rest break.
Piece-rate workers are entitled to minimum wage compensation for each hour worked. An employer cannot average out compensation over a period of time. Piece rate employees are entitled to separate, hourly compensation for all non-productive time spent at work. This includes time spent in meetings, waiting for tasks, and, of course, rest breaks. Employers are not allowed to negotiate a higher piece-rate payment to make up for this time. Separate compensation is a must.
Commission-based workers are also entitled to separate, hourly compensation for rest breaks and non-productive time spent at work. This hourly compensation cannot be paid as an advance against future commissions. The courts have held that this type of structure is essentially providing employees with interest-free loans.
What happens if you’re not getting paid rest breaks?
If you are not receiving paid rest breaks, it’s likely your employer is violating the law. California takes labor violations seriously. You could be entitled to back pay and other damages. As always, there are exceptions to these rules. You should always discuss your options with a skilled legal professional.