Good news for Companies Struggling to Comply with California’s Seventh Day Work Rule

May 24, 2017

The California Supreme court has recently provided some clarification regarding the day of rest requirements set out in California’s Labor Code sec. 551 and 552. It states that an employer is required to provide an employee one days rest in seven and that employers may not cause employees to work more than six days in seven. 

There are exceptions for part time workers, emergency responders, and some situations when employees may accumulate rest days, (sec. 554 and 556) but most employers must comply with the seventh day rule.

The interpretive question has hinged around the definition of the work week. Is it based on the employers established work week or is it a rolling seven day period?

The question arose in the context of the case Mendoza v. Nordstrom Inc. In the wake of the ruling the Supreme Court has clarified that the seventh day rule need not be applied on a rolling basis, and can be applied based on the employers designated work week. The practical implication in scheduling is that the employer may designate a work schedule that provides a Sunday off one week, and a Saturday off the following week. The benefits of this schedule would allow for employees to then have two consistent days off every other week. The following schedule would not be in violation of the rule provided the company designated such a schedule with-in the perimeters of the regulation.

The ruling further clarified that employees may elect or volunteer to work on the seventh day. Employers must inform the employee of their rights to a day of rest, but employees may choose to forgo that rest day. It is recommended that employers never encourage employees to forgo the rest day, and that they always take a position of allowing it at the employee’s choice. 

As with any situation involving regulations, everything should be well documented.  

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Day Off Work Day Work Day

Work Day

Work Day Work Day Work Day
Work Day Work Day Work Day Work Day Work Day Work Day Day Off

Outside of the legal requirements, there are some principles that should always be kept in mind when dealing with busy work schedules.

  1. Always try and strike a balance between business needs and the employee’s best interest.  Most employees understand that busy times in the business cycle require sacrifice, and most employees will do what they can to help their employer be successful. Most employees realize that the company’s success is their success.
  2. Employees are a company’s most valuable asset, but they are more than an asset, they are people.
  3. Always follow the law, but be open to alternative work schedules. Learn the requirements and the opportunities. California law does allow for some good alternative schedules under certain requirements and conditions.

With complicated and specific laws like these, Morrison and Company can help sort through the practical implications and applications of employer constraints, such as our example here of work schedule options. 

The contents of this article are intended to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice or opinions.

+Shawn Miller is a consultant with Morrison & Company, providing business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and strategic planning), special projects, and has greatest expertise in recruiting and People Services that don't fit into any conventional category.  You can contact Shawn directly at smiller@morrisonco.net or via telephone at (530) 809-4680.

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