California Labor &
Employment Law Blog

Feb. 22 2011

Two Hours of Premium Pay Per Day for Missed Breaks

Topics: Court Decisions, Wage & Hour Issues

The California Labor Code generally requires employers to provide non-exempt employees with the opportunity to take a rest break for every four hours of work, as well as a lunch break for shifts in excess of five hours. The Labor Code further provides that if a meal or rest break is improperly denied, the employee may recover one hour of pay as a "premium" (in plain english, known as a penalty). What is unsettled in California is how many hours of premium pay an employee may recover in one day--one hour regardless of how many breaks are missed, one hour per missed meal break and one hour per missed rest break, or one hour for all meal breaks and one hour for all rest breaks? One court decided last week that an employee may recover up to one hour of pay per day for missed meal breaks and one hour of pay per day for missed rest breaks. The court relied on its interpretation of the plain language of the IWC Wage Orders and the administrative/legislative history behind them. The case is United Parcel Service, Inc. v. Superior Court (Allen) and the decision is here.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent represents employers, including major food and retail companies, in all types of employment litigation: wrongful termination, retaliation, breach of contract, wage and hour (California Labor Code) and unfair competition. She also regularly counsels and advises California employers on issues of compliance with California and federal employment laws.
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