Compliance Spotlight: California Meal Break Laws and Their Implications for Staffing Firms

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In Compliance Spotlight, we cover major legislations and regulations that impact staffing firms and highlight Bullhorn features that firms can leverage as a component of their compliance strategy. Subscribe to our newsletter to ensure you don’t miss out on compliance news and updates! Note: This is not legal advice. You should contact your legal counsel concerning any questions or issues regarding compliance.

What are California’s meal break laws?

California’s Meal Break laws were enacted in 2018 to ensure employees have a reasonable opportunity to take uninterrupted breaks for meals.

Employers in California are legally obligated to provide employees a 30-minute meal break every five hours. During this time, employees must have no work duties. Employers may not discourage employees from taking these breaks. There are many nuances to the specific protections provided, and we recommend you consult a legal professional for a comprehensive overview.

New changes to California meal break calculation

Two recent California Supreme Court decisions have altered the way the law is practiced and enforced. Both of these decisions have implications for staffing firms. Read on for a brief overview of each decision and how you can use Bullhorn products as a part of your compliance strategy.

Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC

The decision: On February 25, 2021, the California Supreme Court ruled that the use of rounded time should not be used in meal break calculation. The court rules that even a “minor infringement”, such as a meal period of 29 minutes,  triggers an employer’s premium pay obligations.

How Bullhorn Time & Expense helps you in your compliance efforts in this area: 

BTE supports both rounded and actual time via configuration settings within the system. The BTE recommendation has always been to avoid using rounded time calculations in California. In addition, the Meal Break feature doesn’t allow for the use of rounded time in determining if a Meal Break Exception is warranted.

Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC

The decision:  In the Ferra decision, the court ruled that employers must calculate nonexempt employees’ meal, rest, and recovery period premium payments based on both hourly wages and any other non-discretionary wage payments. This is the same method employers use to calculate an employee’s rate for overtime purposes otherwise known as the “FLSA blended rate”.

How Bullhorn Time & Expense helps you in your compliance efforts in this area: 

Today, the BTE Meal Break Exception applies the employee’s base rate (when available) to the meal premium.

  • Pricing Inside of BTE/BH1: We are currently working on an initiative to add the ability to apply the FLSA blended rate for overtime. This will allow the system to calculate the FLSA blended rate and apply it for purposes of meal premium payments in CA.
  • Pricing Outside of BTE: If pricing is being managed in a third-party system, you will need to work with your third-party provider to ensure the proper handling of these calculations. If needed, we can provide the relevant time data either via a query through our Support team or using one of the standard Meal Break reports, BRKN or BRKC.

Looking Ahead:

We’re closely monitoring California Meal Break compliance to align with other key regulation and legislation that impacts staffing firms. Subscribe to our newsletter and reach out to your account manager to learn more about how you can use Bullhorn products as a component of your compliance efforts.

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