Last week, the California Supreme Court clarified an employer’s obligation to provide its employees with a weekly day of rest. This clarification required interpretation of the Labor Code provision which prohibits an employer from “caus[ing] his employees to work more than six days in seven.”
This issue arose when a Nordstrom employee filed a suit alleging that Nordstrom caused him to work more than six days consecutive days when his supervisor asked him to fill in for another employee. The Court agreed with Nordstrom that an employee may be required to work more than six consecutive days, as long as the employee receives at least one day of rest during each workweek. For example, an employee may be scheduled to work Tuesday through the Saturday of the next week (12 consecutive days), as long as a day off is scheduled on the preceding Monday and following Sunday.
The Court further clarified that while an employer must apprise employees of their entitlement to a day of rest, it may maintain absolute neutrality as to the exercise of that right. An employer may not encourage its employees to forgo rest or conceal the entitlement to rest, but is not liable simply because an employee chooses to work a seventh day.
An additional Labor Code rule outlines an exception to the day of rest requirement if an employee works (i) no more than six hours each and every day of the given week or (ii) less than thirty hours in the week. Nordstrom argued that under this provision, a day of rest is not required if the employee works at least one day under six hours during the week. However, the Court sided with the Nordstrom employee’s interpretation of this exception, holding that because the employee worked at least one day over six hours, Nordstrom was not entitled to this protection.
While this decision provides employers some scheduling latitude regarding an employee’s right to a day of rest, it is imperative that all employers apprise employees of their entitlement to a day of rest for each workweek.