Bottom Line: Signed into law by Governor Brown in October of last year, and effective in 2014, SB 435 expands meal and rest break rules to include “recovery” periods taken by employees to prevent heat illness.
Labor Code 226.7 provides that an employee should receive one hour of pay as a penalty for not receiving rest or meal periods in accordance with California law. SB 435 expands the one hour of pay penalty to missed “recovery periods” and applies to any meal, rest or recovery period mandated by applicable statute, regulation, standard, or order of the California IWC, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, or the Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
SB 435 defines “Recovery Period” as “a cool down period afforded an employee to prevent heat illness.” For example, when the outdoor temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit, Cal/OSHA mandates a recovery period of not less than 5 minutes for employees who work outside to take a cool-down rest, in the shade, to protect themselves from overheating.
An employer who does not provide an employee with a recovery period must pay the same premium penalty that exists for unprovided meal or rest breaks. This penalty is currently one additional hour of pay for each workday that the meal, rest or recovery period is not provided. Note: California courts call it a “wage” instead of a “penalty” so that the statute of limitations on the claim is three times as long.
This new law does not affect all California employers, but only those with outside employees, such as employers in the construction and agriculture industries. Employers with outdoor places of employment are subject to Cal/OSHA's heat illness standard, which allows for cool-down periods in the shade of no less than five minutes at a time on an “as-needed” basis for employees to protect themselves from overheating. Employers and employees can find additional resources for preventing heat illness on the Cal/OSHA website.
Questions about SB435 or other California Wage and Employment Laws?
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