A bill seeking to make it more difficult for employees to get meal breaks, or to sue, individually or collectively, for meal break wages made it out of committee on April 9, but was substantially amended on April 15 and set for hearing today. However, that hearing has been withdrawn.
SB 1539 (Margett) initially sought to specify that "providing" an employee with a meal break meant "giving the employee an opportunity to take" a meal break.
This bill would revise the statutory requirements for the provision of meal periods to specify that the requirements apply only to employees subject to the meal period provisions of an order of the IWC. The statutory requirements for providing the meal periods would be revised to specify that a meal period based on working more than 5 hours in a workday is required to be provided before the employee completes 6 hours of work, unless the existing waiver provision is invoked. The waiver provision for the 2nd meal period would be changed to provide an exception for different provisions within IWC wage orders in effect as of January 1, 2008, and to permit the employer and employee to agree to waive either the first or the 2nd meal period if the employee otherwise is entitled to 2 meal periods. The bill also would specify conditions under which on-duty meal periods are permitted rather than meal periods in which the employee is relieved of all duty. The meal period provisions of a valid collective bargaining agreement would be required to be implemented for covered employees rather than the statutory requirements. The bill would require that orders of the IWC be interpreted in a manner consistent with this section, and would require the Department of Industrial Relations to amend and republish specified IWC wage orders to be consistent with the revised meal period requirements. The bill also would declare that all those provisions are declaratory and not amendatory of existing law.
With the latest amendment, the bill looks quite different:
to amend Section 512 of the Labor Code,relating to employment.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST
SB 1539, as amended, Calderon. Meal periods.
Existing law requires an employer to provide an employee who works more than 5 hours in a workday with a meal period of not less than 30 minutes, unless the employee works no more than 6 hours in a workday and the meal period is waived by mutual consent. An employer also is required to provide an employee who works more than 10 hours in a workday with a second meal period of not less than 30 minutes, unless the employee works no more than 12 hours, the first meal period was not waived, and the second meal period is waived by mutual consent. The Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) of the Department of Industrial Relations adopts and amends wage orders that, among other things, specify how meal periods are required to be provided to covered employees within various industries, including the procedures for providing employees with on-duty meal periods.
This bill would declare the intent of the Legislature to enact
legislation to address issues related to meal periods in employment.
Instead of a massive overhaul of Labor Code section 512, the text of the bill now just reads:
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to address issues related to meal periods in employment.
That's it for now. Senator Margett's other meal period bill, SB 1192, was withdrawn on April 8. That bill would have reduced the statute of limitations on meal and rest period pay to one year, and would have allowed employers to force their employees to wait as long as six hours to take a meal break.