How to Calculate Rest Break Payment for Piece-Rate Workers

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Wilber_barbara_rgbWe pay our employees by piece rate. What is this I’m hearing about paying additional wages for the rest break? Is this true and how do we calculate it?

Yes, it is true. As the result of the court case, Bluford v. Safeway Stores Inc., 216 Cal.App.4th 864 (2013) employers that use a piece-rate method of payment are now required to separately compensate employees for their rest break time.

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has provided the following calculation example:

Example

Additional Compensation for Rest Periods Taken by Piece-Rate Workers

Example: Piece-rate employee works 40 hours, 5 days a week with two 10-minute rest periods taken on each workday, and earns $600 in a particular workweek.

• Total hours worked for the week = 40 hours.

• Total length of rest periods taken during the week: 100 minutes (which is derived from two 10-minute rest periods taken per day x 5 days a week).

• 100 minutes ÷ 60 (1 hour) = 1.667 as total hours for rest period taken.

• Hours spent on making pieces: 40 hours – 1.667 hours = 38.333 hours.

• Rate of pay for rest period taken: $600 (weekly piece amount made) ÷ 38.333 (hours spent on making pieces) = $15.65 per hour.

• Additional compensation employer must pay for rest period taken : $15.65 x 1.667 hours = $26.09.

• Total wages this piece-rate worker shall be paid: $600 (piece amount made) + $26.09 (payment for rest periods taken) = $626.09.

Wage Orders

The Industrial Welfare Commission orders state that rest breaks shall be counted as hours worked and there shall be no deduction from wages. The method described above ensures that the compensation does not result in a deduction from the employee’s regular wages.

Employers should review their piece-rate payments to ensure compliance with the above methods of calculation.


The Labor Law Helpline is a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at www.hrcalifornia.com.

Staff Contact: Barbara Wilber

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Barbara Wilber
About Barbara Wilber
Barbara Wilber joined the CalChamber in 2005 and currently serves as an HR adviser. She previously served as a deputy labor commissioner and hearing officer with the Labor Commissioner in the California Department of Industrial Relations. Her 24 years of experience includes settlement conferences, wage claim determinations and resolving employee disputes brought to the Office of the Labor Commissioner.​​​​​