November 16, 2015

Meal Periods

The state of California requires that all non-exempt employees (faculty, staff and students) receive an unpaid meal period of at least 30 minutes, during which they are relieved of all duties, according to the following schedule:

Hours worked in a shift Meal period requirement
Up to, but not exceeding 5 No meal period required.
More than 5 but not exceeding 6 30-minute unpaid meal period, with option to waive by mutual written consent of the employee and the manager. If not waived, the meal period must start no later than the completion of the fifth consecutive hour of work.
More than 6 but not exceeding 10 30-minute unpaid meal period must be taken, starting no later than the completion of the fifth consecutive hour of work.
More than 10 but not exceeding 12 30-minute unpaid meal period must be taken no later than the completion of the fifth consecutive hour of work, and a second 30-minute unpaid meal period with option to waive by mutual written consent of employee and the manager; waiver permitted only if first meal period was taken. If not waived, the meal period must start no later than the completion of the tenth paid hour of work.
More than 12 30-minute unpaid meal period must be taken no later than the completion of the fifth consecutive hour of work, and a second 30-minute unpaid meal period must start no later than the completion of the tenth paid hour of work.

The university also requires that the first meal period begin no earlier than two hours after the start of the employee’s shift.

Managers must schedule meal periods in compliance with above schedule, but departments may schedule longer meal periods at their discretion.

If an employee is expected to perform any duties or is required to be on the premises during the meal period, s/he must be paid for that time.

Employees must accurately record on their timesheet the time out for the meal period and the time back in. They must also record any days they were not provided the opportunity to take a full meal period as per the schedule above, in which case one hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay will be added to the employee’s timesheet (a “sanction”). This pay is in addition to regular and overtime hours worked and recorded for the day, but is not considered “hours worked” and therefore not included in the calculation of overtime.

Once the meal period is provided, it is the employee’s responsibility to take the meal period. If the employee freely chooses to continue working through the meal period, freely chooses to take a shorter meal period or freely chooses to use meal periods inconsistent with the above requirements, meal sanctions will not apply. In addition, working through a meal period does not entitle an employee to leave work earlier than the end of his/her scheduled shift.

All non-exempt employees must sign the “Meal and Rest Period Obligation Acknowledgment” upon hire.

Responsible Office

Human Resources Administration

uschr@usc.edu
(213) 821-8100

Issued by

Todd R. Dickey, Senior Vice President, Administration
University of Southern California