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).

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About the Editor

Robin Largent has a regular presence in California state and federal courts and has been lead defense counsel and appellate counsel for large and small California employers in litigation (and arbitration) ranging from individual discrimination and harassment claims to complex wage and hour representative and class actions. She also leads the firm’s appellate practice, having substantial experience and success handling appeals, writ petitions, and amicus briefs in both state and federal court on issues such as class certification (particularly in the wage and hour arena), manageability and due process concerns associated with class action trials, exempt/non-exempt misclassification issues, meal and rest break compliance, trade secret/unfair competition matters, and the scope of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.
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