California Governor Extends Meal and Rest Break Penalties to Missed “Recovery Periods” Taken By Outdoor Workers

With narrow exceptions, existing California law requires employers to make available to hourly workers meal and rest breaks throughout the workday.  Employers who prevent hourly employees from taking legally compliant meal and rest breaks must pay a penalty of one hour of pay for each missed meal or rest break—up to a maximum penalty of two hours of pay per workday.

In SB 435, Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill amending Labor Code Section 226.7 and extending this penalty to meal, rest, and “recovery periods” mandated by OSHA.  The bill defines “recovery period” to mean “a cooldown period afforded an employee to prevent heat illness.”

OSHA requires employers of outdoor workers, such as farmers, construction employees, landscapers, oil and gas workers, etc., to allow and encourage such workers to “take a cool-down rest in the shade for a period of no less than five minutes at a time when they feel the need to do so to protect themselves from overheating.”  Employers who fail to comply with this “recovery period” obligation subject themselves to liability pursuant to the amended Labor Code Section 226.7.

To review the OSHA regulations pertaining to heat illness prevention, click here.  To review OSHA’s tips for complying with these regulations, click here and here.

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Bernstein & Friedland, P.C. is a boutique employment law firm in Los Angeles specializing in wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and unpaid wage and overtime matters.  Please visit our website at www.laemploymentcounsel.com to learn more about us.

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