Court Rules That Laws Regarding Meal & Rest Breaks Don’t Apply to Public Employees

The California Labor Code requires that employees be given meal and rest breaks during the work day. (See Cal. Labor Code, sections 512 (30 minute meal break); section 226.7 (employer cannot require employee to work through meal or rest break; and IWC Orders, section 12 (10 minutes per 4 hour shift).)

However, in a recent decision, the court of appeal held that these provisions do not apply to public employees.  In California Correctional Peace Officers Association v. State of California, the court relied on precedent to rule that unless Labor Code provisions are specifically made applicable to public employers, they only apply to employees in the private sector.  The court also noted that “[w]e have no quarrel with the concept of meal breaks as generally being beneficial to all employees.  However, our role as an appellate court is to interpret the law, not insert what the Legislature has omitted.  . . . To that end, it is not the judiciary’s role to second-guess the wisdom of the Legislature’s choices."

For your convenience, a complete copy of the court’s ruling is attached. 

At Slote, Links & Boreman, LLP, we regularly advise employers and employees on these issues and other concerns related to the workplace.  Feel free to give us a call if you have questions or issues in this area.

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