California Meal Break and Rest Law: What You Need to Know to NOT Break the Law in Your Dental Practice
California is one of the most progressive states in the entire country. Due to their extensive laws, employers must consider various factors to ensure that they are treating their dental practice employees right. Failure to do so could lead to stiff legal and financial penalties, and may make it harder for your practice to attract the talent you need.
Unlike many other states, California has a "day of rest" requirement.
What Is the California Meal Break and Rest Break Law?
The California Meal Break Law and Rest Break Law legally require that you give your dental employees a rest period or meal break if they work for a certain amount of time. These laws set the standards for when an employee is required to have a break, if that break is considered a compensated one, and what the penalties are for violating this law.
What are the Meal and Rest Break Requirements Under California Labor Law?
According to the California Meal Break Law and Rest Break Law, these are the requirements that must be given to your dental practice employees, based on the hours that they work: :
- Working less than 3.5 hours: No rest break is required.
- Working 3.5 to 6 hours: One ten-minute rest period is required.
- Working 6 to 10 hours: Two ten-minute rest breaks are required. This must total 20 minutes of paid rest breaks.
- Working 10 to 12 hours: Three ten-minute rest breaks are required. This must total 30 minutes of paid rest breaks.
- Working less than 5 hours: No meal break required.
- Working 5 to 10 hours: One meal break is required.
- Working 10 to 15 hours. Two meal breaks are required.
- Working 15 to 20 hours. Three meal breaks are required.
California Supreme Court rulings have further interpreted this requirement.
Click here to read more on the subject.
California’s Day of Rest Requirement
Unlike many other states, California has a "day of rest" requirement. This means California dental practice employees are entitled to one day of rest – meaning a day in which they don't work - out of every seven consecutive days. However, that day of rest must occur during a workweek, not over a flexible seven-day period. In other words, an dental employee can work every day from Thursday - Thursday, as long as they have a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday off.
California’s Break Time for Lactating Mothers
Mothers who pump breast milk for their babies must be given time to express milk. This break time can run concurrently with an employee's already existing break. There is no set time offered, but according to California law, it must be a "reasonable" amount of time to express milk. Failure to do so can lead to extra payments to an employee and a fine to the business in question.
Which California Employees Are Entitled to Meal and Rest Periods?
Keep in mind that not all dental practice employees are entitled to these meal or rest breaks. As you can see above, employees are only entitled to rest periods if they work more than 3.5 hours, and they are entitled to a meal break only if they work more than five hours. These only apply to non-exempt workers, meaning workers who are not exempt from overtime provisions.
What Happens if I Deny Meal Breaks or Rest Breaks to my Dental Practice Employees?
If you deny meal or rest breaks to your dental practice employees, you could be in serious financial trouble.
An employee denied a break can file a complaint against you with the California Labor Relations Board. If your practice is found to be in violation of California meal break laws or rest break laws, you would owe your employees penalties: one hour of wages per day, for every instance that a meal break or rest break was denied and/or not taken compliantly.
Furthermore, keep in mind that all this information regarding fines is public. This means customers or employees could know that you violated the law and choose not to seek
Dental care from you or may choose not to work for you. In a time period where there is a significant labor shortage, this is likely not something your practice can afford.
What Does All of This Mean?
At the end of the day, your California dental practice must offer breaks to your employees. Failure to do so - even by accident - could lead to stiff legal penalties.
It also means that it is vitally important you implement a time-keeping system that keeps proper records, and ensures your employees take the breaks they need and are legally required to. This makes it much more difficult for you dental practice employees to have a winning claim.
How HR for Health Can Help
As you can see, the California Meal Break Law and Rest Break Law are extensive, complicated, and expensive if you fail to adhere to them. This means you must ensure that you respect the law and your employee's rights to take rest and meal breaks. It also means you should implement the tracking software to confirm that your practice’s employees are taking these breaks, and that you are maintaining proper records.
This is where HR for Health can come in. At the end of the day, tracking this information and confirming that you are implementing it properly can be difficult, and you may benefit from an outside expert to help ensure that you are following the law. HR for Health is built for California dental practices, and can help ensure that you are obeying all necessary legal requirements. For more information, set up a free, no-obligation call today.