Employment Law Blog

California Supreme Court Outlaws On-Duty and On-Call Rest Periods for California Employees

1/11/2017

 

The California Supreme Court recently addressed an issue of great importance to many California employees, including security guards and other clerical, professional and service occupations, such as cashiers, secretaries or computer programmers, who are required under California law to be given regular rest breaks during their workday.  In Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., a security firm required its security guard employees to keep their pagers and radios on, even while the security guards were on rest breaks, and to respond to any emergencies which occurred during those times.  This violated a provision of the California state Labor Code which requires employers in California to provide certain types of employees, including security guards, with rest periods that are free from job duties or employer control.  California workers covered by this decision can now rest easy knowing that their rights to rest periods under California law are protected from any control or duties imposed upon them by their employer during those periods.

The California Supreme Court’s Decision and What It Means for Certain California Employees

The California Supreme Court’s decision in Augustus means that California employees in professional, services and clerical positions cannot be required to perform any work-related duties nor can the employer control how an employee chooses to spend the employee’s state law mandated rest periods.  Under the applicable state law, which was promulgated by California’s Industrial Wage Commission in California Wage Order 4, every employer is required to give employees covered by this Wage Order (security guards, secretaries, cashiers and other employees in the professional, clerical and services sectors) a paid rest period of ten minutes in duration for each four hours worked during a workday. The California Legislature also had previously addressed this issue in Section 226.7 of the California Labor Code, which provided that “No employer shall require any employee to work during any meal period or rest period mandated by an applicable order the Industrial Wage Commission.”

It is now eminently clear that California state law prohibits on-duty and on-call rest periods.  The Court specifically concluded that “During required rest periods, employers must relieve their employees of all duties and relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time.”  Therefore, an employer cannot force an employee who falls within the categories of employees covered by California Wage Order 4 to perform job-related functions during their rest periods, even monitoring a radio, pager or company-issued mobile phone.  The same is true for meal breaks, which are required for the same categories of workers if the employee works a shift of more than five hours.  (The employer must give such employees an uninterrupted meal break of at least 30 minutes during each workday).

Contact Hekmat Law Group if Your Employer is Violating Your Rights to Rest or Meal Breaks in California

If your employer is violating the law by requiring you to spend your break time on-duty or is otherwise requiring you to perform job-related tasks during your state law mandated rest periods, contact our experienced attorneys today at 424-888-4LAW for a free consultation regarding your situation and your legal rights today.