On February 25, 2021, the California Supreme Court decided Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC (Donohue). In that case, the court held that (1) employers cannot round time in the meal period context and (2) time records showing noncompliant meal periods raise a rebuttable presumption of a meal period violation. Accordingly, the court’s decision has significant implications for employers who rely on time keeping systems that round time during employee meal breaks.
California’s meal period laws are governed primarily by California Labor Code section 512 and the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 4. Pursuant to these regulations, an employee is entitled to a 30 minute meal break no later than the end of the fifth hour of work and another 30 minute meal break no later than the end of the tenth hour of work. An employer must provide the opportunity for a compliant meal period, but need not police it. If an employee voluntarily chooses not to take a meal break, then there is no meal period violation. However, if an employer fails to provide a compliant meal break and an employee does not voluntarily waive it, then the employer must provide that employee a premium pay, or one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday a meal period is not provided. To avoid such penalties, an employer must provide its employees with complete and timely meal breaks whenever required by law. Continue Reading