Court Rules On Premium Payments For Denied Meal And Rest Periods


California law regulates meal and rest periods, requiring employers to provide their employees an unpaid 30-minute meal period after working for five hours, and a second meal period after 10 hours, with a 10-minute rest period for each four hours of work or major fraction thereof. Employees required to work through their breaks are entitled to a premium payment subject to a limit each day.

Although both the California Labor Commissioner's enforcement position and a federal decision interpret the law to require a maximum of one premium per day for each category of violation (maximum of two), this limit has been disputed by employers.

A California Court of Appeals decision recently concluded that state law permits up to two premium payments per work day, per employee, one each for meal period and rest period violations. The court rejected the employer's argument that the law provides no more than a single premium payment per work day, even if the employer may have failed to provide both a meal and rest period in a particular day. UPS, Inc. v. Superior Court (William Allen).

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