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.
Employees in California and in other states get to wake up one hour later when Daylight Savings Time ends. Many people are skeptical about the benefit of changing the clocks considering it does not actually increase the number of hours of daylight. Employers must pay attention not to violate wage and hour laws when the clock rolls back.
In California, some workers who are classified as independent contractors may be able to bring wage and hour claims if they are able to show that the hiring company was really more akin to an employer than a contracting partner. A recent decision in California affirmed an earlier ruling, finding that the independent contractor determination "test" applies only to certain wage and hour claims.
Employers in California will remain in limbo as the U.S. Department of Labor continues to delay decisions about overtime exemptions and joint employment. The agency recently announced that it will not publish proposed new regulations about overtime exemptions until March 2019.
Workers at Amazon warehouses in California will see their hourly wage raised to $15 per hour, and the prediction is that this will put pressure on other area warehouses to do the same. There is also expected to be a surge of better business for supermarkets and other local businesses since the wage increase translates to about $2 more for workers.
Many California employees are covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This requires that they be paid at least the federal minimum wage and be paid an overtime wage. The overtime wage begins after an employee has worked 40 hours in a given workweek. If companies do not pay at least the prevailing minimum wage or provide overtime pay, they may have committed wage theft.
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), California workers and others who send emails or take phone calls after hours must generally be paid for the time worked. This is true even if the employer prohibits the performing of those or similar tasks during evenings or weekends. As long as the employer has a constructive knowledge of the work being done, workers must be compensated for those tasks.
Many agricultural workers in California are strongly encouraged to travel to and from their jobs in company-provided buses. While the use of the buses is nominally voluntary, a number of farm workers have filed lawsuits seeking travel pay for their time on the vehicles. According to the workers' lawyers from California Rural Legal Assistance, employees are actually required to use these company buses to reach the fields. Under a 2000 ruling of the state Supreme Court, farm workers must be paid for their travel time to the worksite on mandatory company buses.
On Sept. 17, the California Department of Industrial Relations announced that employees of a residential-based care business will receive compensation for violations related to wage and overtime. The settlement totaled $450,000 for 15 employees. There were also claims of meal violations, and $89,000 related to that remains in dispute.
According to a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of California nurses, the health care system Dignity Health did not pay overtime pay to nurses working shifts longer than 12 hours. The lawsuit says more than 1,000 nurses were affected by the policy.