Happy Friday. Here is a refresher post for today’s Friday’s Five about some requirements about 10-minute rest breaks required for non-exempt employees:
1. Timing of rest breaks
The 10-minute rest break must be provided to employees who work over three and a half hours. Employers must authorize and permit employees to take 10-minute rest breaks for every four hours worked, or “major fraction” thereof. A “major fraction” of four hours is anytime more than two hours. Insofar as practicable, the rest breaks should be in the middle of each four-hour work period.
2. Rest breaks must be paid and employees must be relieved of all duties
The rest period is considered time worked and must be paid.
Employees must be relieved of all duties during the rest break, and cannot be required to monitor a pager, phone, or other device during the rest break. The Court in Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., ruled that “one cannot square the practice of compelling employees to remain at the ready, tethered by time and policy to particular locations or communications devices, with the requirement to relieve employees of all work duties and employer control during 10-minute rest periods.” The Court made clear that the employee must be “free from labor, work, or any other employment-related duties. And employees must not only be relieved of work duties, but also freed from employer control over how they spend their time.” Further analysis on the Augustus case can be read here.
3. Rest breaks need to be “authorized and permitted”
Employers are required to “authorize and permit” rest breaks, and there is no affirmative duty for employers to require that employees take rest breaks. Employers need to ensure that they do not interfere with an employee’s ability to take the rest break, and if the demands of work are such that employees cannot take the rest break, employers should have a system in place to compensate the employee the applicable “wage premium” of one hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay for any violations.
4. Rest breaks do not need to be recorded
Unlike the 30-minute meal break, the 10-minute rest break does not have to be recorded in the timekeeping system.
5. Piece rate employees must be paid separately for rest breaks
Employers who paid employees on a piece rate basis need to ensure they comply with Labor Code section 226.2, which took effect in January 2016. Under Labor Code section 226.2, employers who paid employees on a piece rate basis must pay employees for “rest and recovery periods and other nonproductive time separate from any piece-rate compensation.” The law requires employers to calculate the regular rate of pay for each workweek, and then pay the piece-rate employees the higher of this regular rate of pay or the applicable minimum wage for rest break time. The law also requires employers to pay piece-rate employees for “nonproductive time” which is defined as “time under the employer’s control, exclusive of rest and recovery periods, that is not directly related to the activity being compensated on a piece-rate basis.” The nonproductive time is required to be paid at a rate no less than the applicable minimum wage rate. In addition, employers who pay employees on a piece-rate basis need to report the pay for rest breaks, recovery periods, and nonproductive time separately on the employees’ pay stubs. Employers with piece rate employees should consult with experienced counsel to ensure the correct amounts of time are being calculated and paid for under this law.