Employers to Weather an Expansion in Wage & Hour Law
The National Weather Service predicts cooling temperatures (in the mid-70s to the mid-80s) over the next couple of weeks, which will hopefully give SoCal employers a bit of a breather from worrying about new employee wage and hour claims.
Governor Jerry Brown just signed Senate Bill 435 into law. The bill expands the one hour pay penalty for missed meal and rest periods found in Labor Code 226.7 to include recovery periods. Recovery periods are also known as cool down periods, to prevent heat illness for employees working outdoors.
According to the California Heat Illness Prevention Standard (GISO 3395), employers must provide shade to accommodate at least 25 percent of their outdoor workforce when the temperature climbs above 85°F. Employers should not only allow, but also encourage employees to take five minutes or more under these shaded areas to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke. There are other guidelines regarding supplying employees with adequate amounts of drinking water, dealing with temperatures above 95°F, monitoring your employees’ tolerance for heat, etc.
Again, the “recovery period” requirement is an amendment to Labor Code §226.7. Employers were already prohibited from requiring employees to work during meal and rest periods. The new recovery period rule applies to all applicable orders, statutes or regulations under:
- Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC)
- Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHA) Board
- Division of Occupational Safety and Health
- California Law
Many California employers may see a rise in worker claims, particularly those whose businesses involve:
- Oil or Gas Extraction
To keep your employees healthy, and minimize wage and hour claims in view of the amended statute, employers should review and comply with OSHA guidelines for providing water and shade, which require, among other things, a recovery period of not less than 5 minutes for employees who work outside to take a cool-down rest when the outdoor temperature exceeds 85°F. Employers should also train supervisors and workers to recognize early warning signs of heat illnesses.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about SB 435 and how best to minimize wage and hour claims.