Duration of Written Meal Period Waivers Depends on Your Needs

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We have employees working 6-hour shifts who want to waive their meal period and employees who want to waive their second meal period after 10 hours. How often do we have to renew the written waiver?

Pursuant to the California Labor Code, both the 6- and 10-hour waiver allow an employer and employee to mutually waive the required meal period. Although other types of meal waivers must be in writing, a written waiver is not required in these instances.

Meal period rules and regulations are found in both the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) orders and in the California Labor Code, Section 512 (stated in part as follows):

512.

(a) An employer may not employ an employee for a work period of more than five hours per day without providing the employee with a meal period of not less than 30 minutes, except that if the total work period per day of the employee is no more than six hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and employee. An employer may not employ an employee for a work period of more than 10 hours per day without providing the employee with a second meal period of not less than 30 minutes, 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.

Waiver Best Practices

Nevertheless, to prove that employees actually intend to waive their meal period, it is a best practice to get the waiver in writing. How long you rely on this written waiver is up to each individual employer.

When making your decision, think about how often the waiver is needed. Does the employee work a 6- or 10-hour schedule every day, or only infrequently? Work with your legal counsel to make this determination.

It is recommended that you review both the IWC orders and the California Labor Code to determine whether a meal period exception applies to your specific industry.

In addition, HRCalifornia.com provides waiver forms that may be modified to reflect the time period covered by the waiver.


Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, 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.​​​​​