Must Employers Pay When Employees Claim They’re Too Busy for Rest Breaks?

October 27, 2022 | From HRCalifornia Extra

By Lisa Ryan, J.D.; Partner, COOK|BROWN LLP

Virtually all California employers and their employees are aware of workers’ rights to take paid rest breaks during a typical shift — that all nonexempt employees whose total daily work time is at least 3.5 hours are entitled to one 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked, or “major fraction thereof.”

But what if the nature of the work doesn’t permit the employee to take a rest break?

That’s a claim employees are increasingly making in the workplace — and the issue a California court recently tackled (Stewart v. Quest Diagnostics Clinical Lab’s, Inc. (Oct. 5, 2022)). Although the decision was unpublished, it offers a valuable lesson for employers on how to protect themselves from employees seeking class certification for rest break violations.

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