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The vexation is lifting for California employers concerned with claims for back wages, penalties, and paystub violations due to employees’ alleged unused meal and rest breaks in circumstances where such breaks were fully allowed but employees worked through them without telling anyone, or while working unsupervised on the road or in the field.  Reinforcing prior decisions by other state and federal courts, the California Courts of Appeal have affirmed that an employer must “provide” meal and rest breaks as required by the Labor Code, but is not responsible to “ensure” that every such rest break is in fact taken.  The court holds that “to provide” breaks means to “authorize and permit” breaks, not to monitor and compel or ensure that every employee takes every break.  The concept is that the employee is afforded a time period (break) when they are free of duty and employer control for that interval.  The court also finds that although the California Supreme Court has only ruled to this effect on rest breaks, the cases and analysis compel the same result as to meal breaks.

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