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Governor, Labor Leaders Dispute Lunch Rules

Labor leaders are accusing the Schwarzenegger administration of trying to undermine workers´ right to a lunch break, but state officials say the change would only provide flexibility in scheduling workplace meals.

The administration has issued emergency regulations that would allow employers to get around a requirement in the law that says employees must not work more than five hours without getting a half-hour meal break. The new rules would allow meal breaks after the start of the sixth hour of work if employees were given the option of an earlier meal time.

The changes also would allow the employer and employee to waive a second meal break by mutual consent during an extended work day. But labor leaders say the way the regulations are structured they could remove the requirement that employers provide meal breaks.