HR Management & Compliance

Meal Period Waivers Are Back in Effect for California Healthcare

You may remember that back in the spring, a California Court of Appeal decision found that employees may not waive their second meal period during shifts longer than 12 hours, drastically affecting meal period policies throughout the Golden State’s healthcare industry. However, a new bill is bringing the waivers back.

On October 5, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 327. This bill would overturn the decision in Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center.

In Gerard, there was a specific wage order that came under fire. Wage Order 5 applied to the healthcare industry and contained a special provision allowing healthcare workers to waive one or the other of their two meal periods when they are scheduled to work more than 10 hours in a shift.

A provision in the wage order—in Section 11(D)—allows healthcare workers who work three 12-hour shifts or four 10-hour shifts to only have one meal period so they could go home a half hour earlier.

However, the decision in Gerard found that Section 11(D) contradicted Labor Code 516, which is a statute that says that the wage orders have to be at least as generous as Section 512. And Section 512 does not permit the waiver of either one of two meal periods by healthcare workers.

SB 327 will amend Section 516 to clarify that except as provided in Section 512, the Industrial Welfare Commission may adopt or amend working condition orders with respect to break periods, meal periods, and days of rest for any workers in California consistent with the health and welfare of those workers.

This bill will further provide that the healthcare employee meal period waiver provisions in Section 11 (D) are valid and enforceable on and after October 1, 2000, and continue to be valid and enforceable.

SB 327 will take effect immediately as an urgency statute.

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