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labor law in California
March 31, 2005 1:41 PM   Subscribe

A good friend of mine works for a large international bank in the SF bay area. This person was informed today that beginning immediately, the two 15 minute breaks that have been allowed up until now are being reduced to 5 minute breaks. This person works a full 8-hour shift, and I was under the impression that a 1-hour lunch/meal break and 2x 15 minute breaks were required by law. What are the legal requirements in California, and how do they differ from federal requirements?
posted by luriete to Work & Money (8 answers total)
 
Assuming your friend is non-union:

Regardless of the law, the key phrase is "at-will employment". It basically sucks, but if your friend pushes the issue, s/he may find herself out of a job.

Here's what I've found so far(IANAL):


The current law states that employers must give workers a minimum 30-
minute lunch break before their fifth hour of work. The law allows workers
to sue employers and win back wages for as much as four years in cases
where employers fail to provide the break.

State officials proposed changing the rule to give workers the break
before the sixth hour of work and limiting back pay to one year instead of
four.


Also check here and here. Of further interest might be the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement site.
posted by aberrant at 1:54 PM on March 31, 2005


Meal Periods and Rest Periods. It is, as you would expect, insanely complicated. But it looks like the requirement is 30 minutes for lunch and 2x10 minutes for rest.
posted by smackfu at 1:57 PM on March 31, 2005


this case illustrates why unionism is needed
posted by five fresh fish at 3:57 PM on March 31, 2005


I require 5 minutes each hour, at my sole discretion, or I don't work. I've seldom found this a problem, and places for which it was a problem were places I didn't want to work anyway, as they were too rules-happy for their own good. Mind, my productivity on the job is usually substantially higher than those around me (and I use this argument to support my requirement).

I had no problem with this at Security Pacific and BofA (mind, this was in the 80's). I contend my break preference is superior to the common 15-minute breaks.
posted by Goofyy at 7:03 PM on March 31, 2005


If your friend worries that pushing directly might have negative repercussions, and if they aren't willing to risk their job, they could write directly to the DLSE (or whatever the relevant regulatory body is in Califonia).

If they're feeling especially passive-aggressive they could just tape a copy of the law to their supervisor's door some morning.

But I think we'd all be better off if employees were more willing to stand up to bad management directly. (Keep your resume up to date though.)
posted by hattifattener at 10:53 PM on March 31, 2005


Employee exempt status -- and at-will employment -- does not exempt the employer from compliance with California labor law, which states a minimum of two breaks of no less than ten minutes, and a lunch break of no less than thirty. Your friend's employer is exposing itself to an entire world of liability hurt. Financial institutions are notoriously averse to liability, so this is something of a surprise!
posted by majick at 1:43 AM on April 1, 2005



Employee exempt status -- and at-will employment -- does not exempt the employer from compliance with California labor law, which states a minimum of two breaks of no less than ten minutes, and a lunch break of no less than thirty.


Of course it doesn't. However, if you take a Pollyanna-like approach to your job, especially with a large corporation, the (sad) reality is that you probably won't last long. At-will employment is a very powerful tool in the hands of corporations, and they use it for everything from RIFs to getting rid of "problem" employees.

There are multiple ways to see this law enforced. Complaining directly to your employer is probably not the best one as far as job longevity is concerned. Neither, fff, is spearheading a union drive, though I know that wasn't precisely what you were suggesting.

(I also work for a very large bank in the Bay Area -- but given the poster's description, it's a different one.)
posted by aberrant at 7:37 AM on April 1, 2005


Actually, the FAQ about rest periods only talks about nonexempt employees.
posted by smackfu at 11:27 AM on April 1, 2005


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