On December 22, 2016, the California Supreme Court held in the case of Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc. that employers in California cannot require employees to remain “on-call” during rest breaks, even though employees are paid during this time. The Court reasoned that because rest breaks are only 10 minutes in length, employees often must remain on-site or nearby during their rest break. This constraint, together with an employer’s obligation that employees remain “on-call” and responsive during their rest breaks, undermines the underlying purpose of employee rest breaks: affording employees ten minutes of freedom to use as they choose.
The Court’s decision applies to employers in all industries and can potentially subject them to heavy penalties for failing to provide rest breaks free of interruptions. Should you have any questions regarding the decision or its implications for your workplace, please feel free to contact your Mitzel Group employment attorney.