“On Call” Breaks Violate the California Labor Code
May 16, 2018
Wage & Hour Violations
Does your employer require you to be “on call” during rest periods? These policies may now violate the California Labor Code and Wage Orders. Under the California Supreme Court case Augustus vs ABM Security Services (2016), the California Supreme Court found that rest periods must be “an interval of time free from labor, work, or any other employment-related duties. And employees must not only be relieved of work duties, but also be freed from employer control over how they spend their time.”
In Augustus, the Court found that requiring employees to remain “on call” through pagers and radios during their breaks violated the California Labor Code and Wage Orders. The Court clarified that the law does not permit “employees forced to remain on call during a 10-minute rest period must fulfill certain duties: carrying a device or otherwise making arrangements so the employer can reach the employee during a break, responding when the employer seeks contact with the employee, and performing other work if the employer so requests.” (Augustus vs ABM Security Services (2016) 2 Cal.5th 257, 270.)
However, the California Supreme Court permits your employer to “reasonably reschedule a rest period when the need arises,” when it is necessary to interrupt an employee’s break. (Augustus vs ABM Security Services (2016) 2 Cal.5th 257, 267.)
In sum, you may have a claim against your employer if your employer fails to provide sufficient rest periods to engage in personal activities without being interrupted, such as taking a 10-minute walk, pumping breast milk, or completing a phone call to arrange child care while on break. (Augustus vs ABM Security Services (2016) 2 Cal.5th 257, 271.) However, if your employer does in fact interrupt your break, these requirements may still be met if another break is rescheduled.
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