Earlier this week, in Mendoza v. Nordstrom, the California Supreme Court clarified some ambiguous issues involving requirements under the California Labor Code involving when a “day of rest” must be provided to employees.
The Court clarified:
- That a day of rest is guaranteed for each workweek (as the workweek is defined by the employer).
- There is an exception for employees who work shifts of six hours or less every single day in the workweek.
- An employer can’t “cause” an employee to go without a day of rest, but an employee can “choose” to forgo that right as long as s/he is fully apprised of the entitlement.
What does this mean for California employers?
First, it means that there is no rolling seven day period in which a day off needs to be provided. Rather, if an employer defines its workweek as Monday through Sunday, one day off must be provided in that week. It can be Sunday one week, Tuesday the next week, and Friday the next. That is good news and avoids some scheduling nightmares.
Second, it means that part-time employees who consistently work short shifts of six hours or less can be scheduled to work seven days. But be careful, any shift over six hours in that week (even by a few minutes) will moot that exemption.
Third, there is still an open issue as to when an employer “causes” an employee to go without a day of rest. The Court was not as clear on this issue as many employers would have liked. To address this ongoing ambiguity, California employers should:
- Add a provision to their employee handbooks advising employees of their right to one day of rest per workweek. They should also make sure the workweek is clearly defined.
- Train managers not to pressure employees to work seven days, and to take shifts to cover other employees when they only have one day off.
- Consider getting some sort of attestation from the employee who works a 7th day in any workweek that s/he is doing so by choice.
Finally, what this case has not changed is the commonsense advice that everyone should get one day of rest per week. It is certainly a better practice (whether required or not), to allow an employee one day off to rest, rejuvenate, and get some perspective away from work.