PART-TIMERS IN CALIFORNIA « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Same Rules for Rest Breaks, Meal Periods and Paid Sick Leave

Hiring workers for shortened hours or for fewer days weekly does not absolve an employer from complying with the full range of workplace legal requirements.  In fact, greater attention may be required with part-time employees to avoid the wage and hour pitfalls.

Paid Rest Breaks.  Under this state’s Industrial Wage Commission (IWC) Wage Orders,  California businesses generally must provide a paid ten-minute rest period for “each four hours worked (or major fraction thereof),” in which the employee is relieved of all duties. There is a special rule for someone who only works three hours or less in a day. Thus, for example:

  • Up to three hours daily labor: no break required;
  • Over three hours and up to six hours daily labor: one break required (four hours plus half or less of a second four hours);
  • Over six hours and up to ten hours daily labor: two breaks required (between four hours plus more than half of another four and two four hour periods and half or less of a third four hours).

Unpaid Meal Periods. Employers may not employ a not-exempt-from overtime worker for a work period of more than five (5) hours a day without providing the person an off-duty meal period of not less than 30 minutes commencing before the end of the fifth hour. However, if the employee works no more than six (6) hours in a day, the employee may by written agreement  waive that meal period. See, IWC Wage Orders  and Labor Code 512.

For example, if an employee begins work at 9:00 a.m. and works a six-hour day, the employee must start a single meal break before 2:00 p.m. when the fifth hour of work ends, unless the employee signs a meal break waiver.

Paid Sick Leave.  Most California employers regardless of size must provide a minimum of 24-hours of paid sick leave per year to any temporary, part-time or full-time employee who has worked in the state for 30 days.  Whether part-time or full-time, an employee is entitled to use paid sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment.

Companies generally have the choice of adopting a plan that accrues such paid leave at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked or one that allocates all paid hours up-front annually. Thus, full-time workers for a company with an accrual plan will reach maximum benefit rights sooner than its part-timers. (Employers with so-called “paid time off” (PTO) policies may have special rules that apply.) See, Mandatory Paid Sick Leave for California Employees (September, 2014).

Businesses must follow the higher paid sick leave standards imposed by particular cities or counties, even if employees work within their boundaries for only a few hours a week.  See, for example, Requiring Employers to Pay for Sick Days; a National Trend (August, 2017); San Diego Paid Sick Leave Requirements, Effective July 11 and September 2, 2016 (August 2016); City of Los Angeles New Paid Sick Leave Requirements (June 2016); and Oakland Paid Sick Leave Law Provides Greater Benefits Than the Upcoming State Requirements (March 2015).

Other Requirements, including Workers’ Compensation:  Among other things, employers must also provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for part-time workers as well as pay for daily overtime hours (over eight), provide the standard pay deductions, and include compliant wage statements with paychecks.

See also:

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

Helena Kobrin

August 17, 2018