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SB 1334 – Extends ICW Wage Order Provisions On Meal And Rest Periods To Public Sector Hospital Employees
Under existing law, the Department of Industrial Relations enforces California’s wage and hour laws through a series of “wage orders” originally issued by the now-defunded Industrial Welfare Commission. In the private sector, those wage orders generally set minimum standards for meal periods and rest periods:
- One unpaid 30-minute meal period on shifts over 5 hours and a second unpaid 30-minute meal period on shifts over 10 hours, as provided by Labor Code Section 512.
- For a work shift less than six hours, the first meal period can be waived by mutual agreement between the employer and employee; the second can be waived by mutual agreement if the work shift is less than twelve hours.
- For healthcare employees who work a shift longer than eight hours, either meal period can be waived by mutual written agreement between the employer and employee, provided that the employee can revoke the agreement with one day’s notice.
- For every four hours worked (or a major fraction thereof) the employee must be provided at least 10 minutes of paid rest time, but no rest time is required for a work day of less than three and one-half hours.
- If an employer fails to provide a meal or rest period, the employer must pay as a penalty an additional hour of pay.
- Employees must be relieved of all duty during a meal period, except in limited circumstances and by written agreement.
However, with some exceptions, the wage orders specifically do not apply these break time requirements to public agencies. Thus, for most public employers there is no specific requirement to provide meal periods or rest periods except as agreed through collective bargaining.
SB 1334 extends the existing meal and rest period rights and remedies available in the private sector to public-sector hospital employees. Specifically, the bill applies to employees who provide direct patient care, or who support direct patient care, in a general acute care hospital, clinic, or public health setting operated by the State of California, the Regents of the University of California, counties, municipalities, or any other political subdivision of the state.
The requirements under SB 1334 do not apply to employees who are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that provides for meal and rest periods and that includes, as a penalty for failing to provide those breaks, a monetary penalty at least equivalent to those provided under the bill.
(SB 1344 adds Section 512.1 to the Labor Code.)