Thursday, December 11, 2008

Answers to California Lunch and Rest Breaks

There have been many questions surrounding the lunch and rest breaks and what the actual law is. I had no idea we would have to delve into this because we were never given any indication that Management had any intention in changing how we took our lunches, minus the lenght of time. Considering the fact that they chose to follow the letter of the law, which they should, this article illustrates what they must abide by or pay the penaltys as prescribed in Labor Code section 226.7

On April 16, 2007 the California Supreme Court issued its opinion in
Murphy v. Kenneth Cole Productions. The decision greatly expanded the rights of employees to collect damages for missed meal periods and breaks.

The issue before the Court was whether the “one additional hour of pay” for a missed meal period or break provided for in Labor Code section 226.7 constitutes a wage or premium pay subject to a three-year statute of limitations (Code Civ. Proc., § 338) or a penalty subject to a one-year statute of limitations (Code Civ. Proc., § 340). The Court held that the remedy provided in Labor Code section 226.7 constitutes a wage or premium pay and is governed by a three-year statute of limitations. As a result employees can recover three years of back pay for missed meal periods and breaks instead of only one year.

Under the Labor Code virtually every employee in California is entitled to two paid ten minute breaks in an eight hour workday and a one half hour unpaid, uninterrupted meal period. “An employer may not employ an employee for a work period of more than five hours per day without providing the employee with a meal period of not less than 30 minutes, except that if the total work period per day of the employee is no more than six hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and employee.”

And, “If an employer fails to provide an employee a meal period or rest period in accordance with an applicable order of the [IWC], the employer shall pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each work day that the meal or rest period is not provided.”

Any one who fails to receive their lunch or rest breaks should notify supervision, also document the event and forward it to any of the committee members until we elect our permanent shop stewards to insure the penalty of 1 hour of straight time wages is paid those missing their breaks.
( Thanks to Brother Victor Banuelos for researching this matter for our members)

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