Executive Summaries » What a Day of Rest Means in California

What a Day of Rest Means in California

August 18, 2017

Before deciding Mendoza v. Nordstrom, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had to ask the California Supreme Court for an interpretation of California’s “day of rest” statutes. The statutes provide that an employer cannot cause its employees to “work more than six days in seven.”

This does not apply when the total hours of work “do not exceed 30 hours in any week or six hours in any one day thereof.” The Ninth Circuit did not know what that meant.

According to the Supreme Court’s interpretation, a day of rest is guaranteed for each workweek, but six consecutive days of work across more than one workweek are not prohibited. The exemption only applies to employees who never exceed six hours of work on any day of the workweek. An employer causes an employee to go without a day of rest when it induces the employee to forego rest to which he or she is entitled. The obligation is to apprise employees of their right and “maintain absolute neutrality” as to the exercise of that right.

However, it is not forbidden to allow an employee to independently choose not to take a day of rest if that employee is fully apprised of the entitlement.

Employers with California employees should take this opportunity to clarify their policies and avoid at least one of the potholes that can add to employee costs and potential liability for violating the day of rest statutes.

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