Supreme Court Ruling Confirms Employers Cannot Keep Employees on Call During Rest Breaks

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California business law attorneyAlthough federal law does not require that employers give their employees rest breaks, state law does. As such, employers within the state of California must comply. More than that, employers must understand that there are no exceptions. A recent California Supreme Court ruling confirms this. The following information explains the California’s rest break law, ensuring you have the information you need to protect your business and avoid litigation.

Minimum Work Hours for Rest Breaks

As outlined by the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order, employers must offer all employees a rest period that is within the middle of any work period that amounts to three and one-half hours or more. So, for example, any employee that works a four hours shift should take their rest break two hours into their shift - or at least as close to that time as practical. For example, an employer may stagger the rest periods of employees who started work at the same time to avoid a workflow interruption. Any employee that works less than three and one-half hours is not entitled to a rest break under the California state law’s guidelines.

Employees Are to Be Paid for their Rest Breaks

Employers are required to pay their employees for rest breaks, which must amount to at least ten minutes per four hour work period. If an employer does not wish to offer this rest period, they must then pay each employee one additional hour of their regular pay per workday for which a break is not provided. It is also worth noting that an employer cannot count restroom breaks as the employee’s rest break. Furthermore, most employers are required to provide a suitable rest area that is separate from the toilet rooms.

Employers Can Mandate That Employees Stay on the Premises

Because the employee is paid for their rest breaks, an employer can mandate that employees remain on premises for the duration of their breaks. However, as outlined in the Supreme Court ruling, employers cannot require that their employers remain on call during their rest break periods. This means you cannot ask them to answer calls or respond to customers or vendors while they are on their paid rest break. Failure to comply can result in serious consequences.  

Contact Our California Business Law Attorney for Assistance

If you have a unique situation and are not completely certain how the work break mandate will affect you, contact Louis J. Willett, Attorney at Law, for assistance. Backed by more than 30 years of experience and dedicated to ensuring your company is protected from litigation, we can advise you on how to remain in compliance with all state and federal employment laws. Schedule a consultation with our California business law attorney to learn more. Call 510-791-2244 today.



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