Alternative Work Week Rules Revised

Recognizing that a tough economy requires greater flexibility, California recently amended Labor Code Section 511, the law that governs how employers may implement alternative work week (AWW) schedules.

In addition to weekly overtime, California employers are required to pay nonexempt employees daily overtime if an employee works more than eight hours in a day. An AWW schedule is an exception to the normal daily overtime rules that offers extra flexibility to both employers and employees.

Employers wishing to implement an AWW schedule must propose the schedule to “a readily identifiable work unit.” Employers can offer either a single AWW option, or a menu of options, for employees to choose from. Typical AWW schedules are four 10-hour days per week, or four 9-hour days and one 4-hour day per week. Certain healthcare workers can elect an AWW schedule that permits 12-hour days without the employer having to pay overtime. Under any AWW schedule, overtime is still owed if employees work more than 40 hours in a week.

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The recent amendments to the AWW rules clarify the definition of a “readily identifiable work unit,” and they also now permit a regular schedule of five 8-hour days per week to be offered on an AWW menu, along with other choices.

The biggest new change is that employees who elect an AWW schedule are now allowed, with their employer’s consent, to switch from one schedule to another on a weekly basis. So, for example, an employee could work four 10-hour days one week, and then five 8-hour days the next week.

We’ll have the full story on the changes, and what they mean for your workplace, in a future issue of CEA.

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