HR Management & Compliance

Wage And Hour: IWC Wraps Up Daily Overtime Hearings

On June 30, the Industrial Welfare Commission held its final hearing to vote on a number of outstanding overtime and other wage and hour issues. The items addressed relate to new wage orders, which spell out rules for various industries and occupations. We’ll summarize the latest IWC developments that will impact many California employers.

New Wage Orders Coming Soon

The IWC confirmed that the Interim Wage Order will remain in force until October 1, 2000. At that time, the new rules will take effect and the commission is scheduled to issue new wage orders. These will include the regulations adopted at the final hearing and at the IWC’s earlier meetings, which we’ve reported on over the past several months.

Meal Period Rule Changes

The IWC made a major change to the rules for meal and rest periods. For Wage Orders 1 through 13 and 15, for each workday that you fail to provide a required meal period or 10-minute rest break, a nonexempt employee must receive a premium of one additional hour of pay at their regular rate of compensation. That additional hour is not counted as time worked for purposes of calculating overtime. The hour premium does not apply if an employee voluntarily agrees to an on-duty paid meal period.

The HR Management & Compliance Report: How To Comply with California Wage & Hour Law, explains everything you need to know to stay in compliance with the state’s complex and ever-changing rules, laws, and regulations in this area. Coverage on bonuses, meal and rest breaks, overtime, alternative workweeks, final paychecks, and more.

To prove on-duty meal periods were voluntary, it’s now crucial that you follow the existing law requiring employees to consent in writing. Otherwise you could be on the hook for the hour premium.

The IWC also changed the rules to allow employees to revoke at any time in writing—as opposed to on one day’s notice—a written agreement concerning on-duty meal periods. To document that rest breaks were taken, be sure employees’ time sheets and cards reflect starting and ending times for all required rest periods.Finally, the motion picture industry must still provide a meal period after six hours of work instead of five.

Exempt Employees

The commission approved new rules regarding the types of duties that qualify an employee for an exemption from overtime. The IWC essentially adopted the federal rules, which differ somewhat from existing state provisions that establish job requirements for the executive, administrative and professional exemptions. As mandated by last year’s overtime legislation, the exempt duties must amount to more than 50% of an employee’s work, and the person must earn a specified minimum salary, which is currently $1,933.33 a month. We’ll have complete details on the new exemption rules next month.

Alternative Workweek Provisions

The IWC formally adopted complex procedures for setting up and repealing alternative workweeks to avoid daily overtime. For the first time, the provisions will be consistent for Wage Orders 1 through 13 and 15, with some minor exceptions. Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Workweek proposal. You must provide employees with a written alternative workweek proposal that specifies the number of days in the workweek and the shift duration. The actual days to be worked need not be spelled out.


  2. Scheduling limits. The schedule may consist of no more than 10 hours a day in a 40-hour workweek, and shifts must be at least four hours long. The actual days and shifts have to be scheduled in advance, although occasional changes won’t cause the overtime exemption to be lost. However, no on-call scheduling is permitted.


  3. Written disclosure; meetings; translation. You must give employees a written disclosure of how the schedule affects wages, hours and benefits. You also have to hold a meeting, with advance notice, at least 14 days before an election to discuss the effect of the alternative workweek schedule. You’re required to mail a copy of the notice to all employees who don’t attend the meeting. If at least 5% of the workers involved speak a primary language other than English, the notice must be in that language as well as English.


  4. Election procedures. A secret ballot election must be held in which the proposal is adopted by at least two-thirds of a work unit’s employees.


  5. Repeal provisions. An alternative workweek can be repealed by following detailed petition and election requirements. With a few exceptions, a repeal election may not be held until 12 months after the schedule was first adopted.


  6. Election reporting. The election results, including the final vote tally, the work unit size and the nature of your business, must be reported to the state Department of Industrial Relations.


  7. Anti-retaliation. You may not retaliate against employees for opposing or supporting adoption or repeal.


  8. Accommodation. You must make a reasonable effort to accommodate employees who cannot work the new schedule.

Health Care Industry Regulations

The IWC voted to retain, with some changes, special alternative workweek rules for the health care industry covered by Wage Order 4 (Professional, Technical, Clerical, Mechanical and Similar Occupations) and Wage Order 5 (Public Housekeeping). Here are the highlights:

Alternative workweeks may consist of workdays of up to 12 hours (with a 4-hour-shift minimum) within a 40-hour workweek, provided the following key conditions are met:

  • Employees are paid double time for hours in excess of 12. Those who put in more than 40 hours in a workweek must be compensated at time and a half.


  • Employees are not required to work more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period unless a health care emergency exists, or more than 13 hours if a relief employee doesn’t show up for work. And employees aren’t required to work more than 16 hours in a 24-hour period, though they can voluntarily agree to do so.

Health care industry employees include those who provide patient care, work in a clinical or medical department, including pharmacists, or work primarily or regularly as a member of a patient care delivery team. They also include licensed veterinarians and registered and unregistered veterinary technicians pro-viding patient care. Workers who primarily provide meals or perform maintenance services, business or other clerical functions aren’t considered health care industry employees.

Other Industry Developments

The IWC approved a ski industry exemption permitting, during the regular ski season, alternative workweeks of up to 48 hours and up to 10 hours in a workday without overtime.The IWC also adopted an alternative method that employers may use to satisfy their minimum wage obligation for crew members on licensed commercial passenger fishing boats.

More Changes Coming

As soon as the new wage orders are published, we’ll make them available on our Web site. Plus, more California employment law changes are in the pipeline as pending legislation makes its way to the governor’s desk for signing this fall. We’ll keep you posted in upcoming issues.


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