Brinker’s New Rules for Meal and Rest Breaks « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles

Brinker’s New Rules for Meal and Rest Breaks

The Necessity of Management Training

While the California Supreme Court’s Brinker decision (April 12, 2012) supplied vital and sensible guidelines that do not require employers to act as a “police” authority confirming workers take their meal and rest breaks, the law will still impose penalties on a business if its supervisors and managers, for lack of training on the new rules, still violate applicable employee rights.

While the Brinker decision clarified that Labor Code 226.7 does not require employers to ensure that no work is done during any meal or rest break, the Supreme Court also confirmed employers cannot “impede or discourage” employees from taking that uninterrupted time off.  Thus, management should consistently promote the availability of such breaks and avoid actions that can be interpreted as undermining appropriate company policy on the subject.  For instance:

–       Management should not fail to schedule out employee meal periods: Recognizing that the particular enterprise may have times during the day when the public’s demand for service make an employee meal or rest break unfeasible (for example, retail, hospitality and food service industries), managers can and must develop a meal and rest schedule to ensure all employees nevertheless receive their allotted time at times most practical for the workers and the flow of business.

–       Management should not provide incentives for employees to work through their breaks: It could well be trouble for supervisors to offer employees extra pay, overtime or any other incentive for choosing to skip a meal break or rest period.  An investigating agency or court could well find such practice as an attempt to “impede or discourage” employees from taking their breaks.

–       Management cannot pressure employees: Any supervisor pressure upon an employee to perform job duties during a break or to skip or shorten that meal break could well be viewed as a violation.  For example, it would be improper for a manager to ridicule or reprimand employees who do not perform any work during their breaks.

For guidance in creating complete meal and rest period policies or properly training supervisors and managers, contact an experienced employment law attorney.

Related Articles:

Brinker: Clocking In on Employee Timekeeping

How to Avoid Costly Penalties for Missed Meal Breaks

 

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