New Exemption to the Meal-Period Requirement

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On September 30, 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill providing an additional exemption to the current meal-period requirements. Existing law requires that all employees in California, with certain exceptions, receive a meal break of at least 30 minutes beginning before the fifth hour of work. The new exemption will apply to employees in certain occupations or industries who are covered by collective bargaining agreements.

Once the amended statute goes into effect on January 1, 2011, individuals who are employed as construction workers, commercial drivers, or security officers in the security services industry, along with employees of electrical corporations, gas corporations, and local publicly-owned electric utilities, will have the possibility of taking advantage of the new exemption. The revised law will give employers the ability to bargain with unions about the statutorily-mandated meal periods for those categories of employees, so long as the resulting collective bargaining agreement expressly provides for meal periods for those employees.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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