EMPLOYERS MUST LET GO « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Employees are Free to Leave Work Premises

During Paid Rest Breaks

According to California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, employees are entitled to a “net” ten-minute paid rest break for every four hours worked, or major fraction thereof (i.e., anything more than two hours of work). “Net” here means the rest period begins as soon as the employee arrives at an appropriate rest area away from the work station.

In Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc. the California Supreme Court concluded employees shall not remain “on-duty” or “on-call” during their ten-minute paid rest breaks for any urgent, earlier return to the job; such breaks must be uninterrupted; and employers must relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time. See, Workers Don’t Lose the Snooze (June, 2017).

The Court further implied, but did not specifically state, that employers cannot require employees to stay on the work premises during a rest break. The Labor Commissioner’s office recently updated its frequently asked questions to directly address this issue:

Q. Can my employer require that I stay on the work premises during my rest period?

A. No, your employer cannot impose any restraints not inherent in the rest period requirement itself. In Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., [citation omitted] the California Supreme Court held that the rest period requirement “obligates employers to permit-and authorizes employees to take-off-duty rest periods. That is, during rest periods employers must relieve employees of all duties and relinquish control over how employees spend their time.” (citation omitted) As a practical matter, however, if an employee is provided a ten minute rest period, the employee can only travel five minutes from a work post before heading back to return in time.

The employer may discipline an employee who does not return on time from an authorized break. Employers should have a written rest period policy confirming these points and should apply it uniformly.

For further information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Cindy Bamforth

February 1, 2018