The Golden State of Compliance: Adhering to California’s Labor Laws

Beautiful Photo of the Golden Gate Bridge

California labor laws are among the strictest in the country—for good reason. Laws that protect the employee from feeling overworked reduce fatigue and increase safety; they also ensure employees have a better quality of life by securing a work-life balance. But employment laws also benefit employers.

Happier, healthier workers not only increase workplace morale, but also save organizations money. A Gallup poll found that an actively disengaged employee costs an organization $3,400 for every $10k of salary (34%). For each employee lost, the cost to replace them could be anywhere from 50% to a staggering 250% of their salary.

Adhering to laws that are put in place to benefit your labor force will only benefit your organization in turn. (Not to mention that you’ll avoid hefty fines and union grievances.)

To help you navigate California’s complex legal landscape, we highlighted employment laws that may currently be affecting your hourly workforce and the ways you can more easily abide by them.

Day of Rest

Section 551 of the California Labor Code provides that “every person employed” in “any occupation” working more than 30 hours a week is entitled to the equivalent of one day of rest in a seven-day period. Section 552 further clarifies that no employer can require employees to work in excess of six days in a row.

These provisions apply equally to both public agencies and private employers. Violation results in a misdemeanor.

The Day of Rest rule makes it clear that employers are responsible for their employees’ safety. With workforce fatigue being a major challenge for high-stress and dangerous sectors like nuclear energy or public safety, it is easy to see why this is such an important law to adhere to.

If your organization is still relying on paper-based scheduling, it’s easy to unknowingly assign an employee an overload of shifts. Besides violating the California Labor Code, you are also putting that employee at risk of physical pain or drowsiness, increasing the likelihood of an accident.

Having an automated scheduling software greatly reduces the inherent human error in scheduling. It keeps track of all employee shift schedules for you so you can easily keep track of how many days someone has worked.

Minimum Wage and Overtime Rate Increases

In a state-mandated effort to reach a $15 minimum wage by 2022, California employers with 26 workers or more saw a minimum wage increase of one dollar. Employees must now be paid a minimum of $12 per hour as of January 1, 2019.

Section 510 of the California Labor Code stipulates that time-and-a-half be paid for any hours worked that surpass 8 in a day and 40 in a week. Any time worked that exceeds 12 hours in a single day is double their regular hourly wage.

Other phased-in overtime charges have come into effect last month as well. For agricultural employers with 26 or more employees, their workers will be entitled to collect overtime pay after 9.5 hours per day, or 55 hours per week. Traditionally, agricultural workers received time-and-a-half after working 10 hours per day (60 hours per week).

There is no doubt that any increase in an employee’s wage will affect an organization’s bottom line, but that does not mean that costs can’t be controlled. When scrutinizing your current methods for issuing overtime, are your schedulers aware of which employee is close to exceeding their 40 hours? If they aren’t, then you are at risk of accidentally assigning too many unnecessary overtime hours.

We’ve previously discussed how automated workforce management can drive total overtime costs down by 19%. Providing visibility into hours worked and centralizing communication for overtime requests makes it easier for your complex scheduling organization to streamline OT hours.

Meal and Paid Rest Breaks

By federal law, employers are not legally required to allow breaks. Of course, state laws are different. California employers must provide meal and rest breaks—one of only a handful of states to require both.

Employers must provide a 30-minute meal break once the employee has worked five hours; once they’ve worked 10, employees are entitled to another break if they choose to take it. These meal breaks can go unpaid.

The rest break, however, must be paid. Employees are entitled to a ten-minute rest break for every four hours worked without a cessation in pay. If practical, these breaks must be provided in the middle of the work period.

The Indeavor Solution

To keep HR and Operations sane amid these updates to California’s labor laws, fatigue management, and streamlined overtime allowances are key. The great news is that you can get all these benefits with Indeavor.

Without a centralized system like ours, companies in California are at a high risk of not being compliant with these specific rules; alternatively, they will spend a lot of time internally trying to manage them. Indeavor is your safety net because it automates compliance coverage – union, local, state, federal, and fatigue.

Click here to request a demo.

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