3 California Labor Compliance Issues to Understand

Written by Rachael Skinner

October 10, 2018

Several labor compliance issues continue to surface in California, and it is a risk to not take some time to learn more about them. Not only can fines and penalties be issued for lack of compliance, but issues with employee morale or even turnover could negatively affect business. Meal breaks, split shifts and spread of hours have caused confusion and concern in California, so we want to share more about them to clear it up.

Keep in mind that whenever laws change, it’s important for employers to update their policies and procedures to be in compliance with California labor laws.

Understanding California Labor Compliance: Meal Breaks

Meal and rest breaks are two separate mandatory breaks that employees and employers are required to adhere to. Records should be kept, and audited regularly to ensure compliance. Time records should show when employees start and end work and when they take meal and rest breaks.

As it stands, employees should be given a meal break after working for 5 hours, for 30 minutes or longer. If the employee works less than a six-hour shift, they can choose to waive their break or can be paid for working through it. There are additional rules around employees and employers who continually allow employees to forgo mandated meal breaks, and a plan should be in place for handling these exceptions.

Exceptions and variations of the law may exist for different industries.

California Split Shifts

Split shifts are very common in restaurant employment, but also happen in other industries. It is defined as a work shift with a period of time between shifts that is unpaid and no work is required, for longer than an hour (therefore is not a rest or meal period).

When a minimum wage worker has a split shift, they are required to be paid an additional hour of work, however, this extra hour is NOT to be taken into consideration for overtime pay. Workers who work a split shift yet make more than minimum wage plus the additional hour of pay are exempt from this rule.

Labor Compliance in Regards to Spread of Hours

When split shifts are scheduled, the employee’s day is considered to be the full span of the start of their first shift until the end of their second shift, even if they have been off for several hours between them, unless the employee requested the time between shifts off. If the spread of hours is ten (10) hours or more, split shift laws then go into place, as outlined above.

Labor compliance can be confusing. Working with a labor compliance specialist who understands the laws in your industry and state can help you stay on top of changes keeping you from facing fines, penalties and more. Adi Insights is a worldwide resource for labor compliance and labor optimization for the retail, restaurant, hospitality, security, healthcare, and manufacturing industries. Have questions about how they can support you? Contact them today.

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