On April 17, 2012, UL Responsible Sourcing Inc. issued a news alert, via email through THE RESPONSIBLE SOURCE.
Data supplied was inaccurate and a correction has been made. The corrected information is highlighted.
UL Responsible Sourcing Inc. makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information that it provides and apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Meal and rest breaks have been particularly difficult for California employers to comply with in the last decade. The many treatments of the issue by various courts have complicated interpretation of the state's requirements and resulted in a large number of lawsuits. However, the highest court in the state, the Supreme Court, put the issue to rest on Thursday, April 12, 2012. Now California employers have resolution on three key issues:
1. Employers must provide, but do not have to require, that employees take a minimum of 30 minutes for a meal break;
2. Meal breaks are required to be taken before the sixth hour of work commences, and, in the case of employees who in a given day work at least 10 hours, a second meal break should be taken before the 11th hour of work commences; and
3. Ten minutes of rest must be permitted for every four hours of work or major fraction thereof.
The most important part of the Supreme Court's decision is that employers do not have to ensure that meal breaks are taken; they only have to provide meal breaks. Thus, if an employee is presented with the option to take a 30 minute meal break, it is permissible for an employee to work through it of their own accord. A best practice is for employers to maintain a specific policy for meal breaks, including the timing of meal breaks. The policy should include the following components:
1. Meal breaks should be provided for employees working more than six hours, and for employees working less than six hours who choose not to waive their meal break;
2. If an employee works six or less hours in a day, the employee can waive their meal break;
3. Employees should be scheduled to take a meal break after no more than five hours of work, and a second meal period after no more than 10 hours of work.
UL RS recommends that companies reach out to California vendors and suppliers and require them to commit to complying with the proper interpretation of the Supreme Court decision. Sending over a comprehensive and easily understandable reading of the law, as well as a set of frequently asked questions and answers in response to the ruling is advisable.