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Law changes break requirements for some petroleum workers

Workers in California have strong protections as part of state law, especially in regard to wage and hour issues. However, a law was signed into effect in September 2018 that affects the rest break requirements for certain safety-sensitive workers at petroleum facilities. Assembly Bill 2605 applies to unionized employees and exempts them from the requirement that they must have no duties at all during their rest periods. The law went into effect when signed and could be renewed in 2021 upon its expiration.

However, the law does not apply to all workers at petroleum facilities; instead, specific guidelines indicate which workers could be affected by the reforms in the law. It only applies to workers who have some reasonable connection to emergency response. For example, it affects workers who must carry radios, pagers or monitors and must be available to respond to an emergency incident. In addition, it affects only workers who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement and receive hourly pay of at least 30 percent more than minimum wage.

The law also notes that if a worker has to interrupt a break period in order to deal with an emergency at work, he or she will receive another rest time after the emergency is over. In addition, it also protects workers' rights to pay. If the required break does not occur, the employee must receive the equivalent of pay for one hour of regular work.

In many cases, however, those most vulnerable to wage and hour violations are workers who are not unionized and not employed in this type of highly skilled, sensitive position. Workers who have not been paid for their work or who are denied legally required breaks on the job can work with an employment lawyer to take action and seek compensation for their damages.

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