Rest Periods: Employees Must Be Relieved Of All Duties

On December 22, 2016, the California Supreme Court decided a landmark case regarding rest periods that is applicable to California employers.  The issue relates to California’s rest period obligations, holding that employers must “relieve employees of all duties” and “relinquish all control over employees” during rest periods.

“California law requires employers to relieve their employees of all work-related duties and employer control during 10-minute rest period.”

Security guards employed by ABM Security Services were required to keep their pagers and radio phones on, remain vigilant, and respond when needs arose when on their rest breaks.  The security guards sued ABM for failing to consistently provide uninterrupted rest periods.  The Supreme Court affirmed a trial court judgment against ABM for $90 million.

The California Supreme Court held that Labor Code Section 226.7(a) prohibits an employer from requiring “any employee to work during any meal or rest period mandated by an applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”).”  IWC Wage Order 4, 12(a) provides that “[e]very employer shall authorize and permit all employees to take rest periods…”

Employers that require employees to remain “on-call” during their rest periods violate wage order requirements that a rest period means “uninterrupted.”

Employers unable to comply with providing employees an uninterrupted rest period have other options, including rescheduling rest periods, providing new rest periods when interruptions occur and paying the premium pay remedy for missed rest periods.  The retroactive applicability of the decision is unclear.


Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc. (12/22/16), 2016 DJDAR 12608).