The California Labor Code, in Division 2, Part 2, Chapter 1, provides for general working hours in this state for employees. Chapter 1 was enacted in 1937 by Chapter 90. Labor Code Section 500 defines the following terms: “workday,” “day,” “workweek,” “week,” and “alternative workweek schedule.”
Section 510 provides that eight hours of labor constitutes a day’s work. Any work in excess of eight hours in one workday, and any work in excess of 40 hours in any one workweek, as well as the first eight hours worked on the seventh day of work in any one workweek, is required to be compensated at the rate of no less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for an employee.
In addition, any work in excess of 12 hours in one day is to be compensated at the rate of no less than twice the regular rate of pay for an employee. However, the requirements of this section do not apply to the payment of overtime compensation to an employee working pursuant to an alternative workweek schedule that was adopted.
Additionally, time spent commuting to and from the first place at which an employee’s presence is required by the employer is not considered to be a part of a day’s work, when the employee commutes in a vehicle that is owned, leased, or subsidized by the employer and is used for the purpose of ridesharing.
Section 511 provides that, upon the proposal of an employer, the employees of an employer may adopt a regularly scheduled alternative workweek that authorizes work by the affected employees for no longer than 10 hours per day within a 40-hour workweek without the payment to the affected employees of an overtime rate of compensation pursuant to this section.
This type of proposal to adopt an alternative workweek schedule must be approved in a secret ballot election by at least two-thirds of affected employees in a readily identifiable work unit. The regularly scheduled alternative workweek proposed by an employer for adoption by employees may be a single work schedule that would become the standard schedule for workers in the work unit, or a menu of work schedule options, from which each employee in the unit would be entitled to choose.
An employer is prohibited from reducing an employee’s regular rate of hourly pay as a result of the adoption, repeal, or nullification of an alternative workweek schedule. An employer is required to explore any available reasonable alternative means of accommodating the religious belief or observance of an affected employee that conflicts with an adopted alternative workweek schedule.
For purposes of this section, “work unit” includes a division, a department, a job classification, a shift, a separate physical location, or a recognized subdivision. A work unit may consist of an individual employee as long as the criteria for an identifiable work unit in this section is met.
Section 512 prohibits an employer from employing an employee for a work period of more than five hours per day without providing the employee with a meal period of not less than 30 minutes, except that if the total work period per day of the employee is no more than six hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and employee.
In addition, an employer is prohibited from employing an employee for a work period of more than 10 hours per day without providing the employee with a second meal period of not less than 30 minutes, except that if the total hours worked is no more than 12 hours, the second meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and the employee only if the first meal period was not waived.
This section also contains provisions for a commercial driver employed by a motor carrier transporting nutrients and byproducts from a commercial feed manufacturer, an employee in the wholesale baking industry, an employee in the motion picture industry or the broadcasting industry, or the employee is covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement. That agreement must expressly provide for specified provisions.
Section 512.1 specifies that an employee directly employed by an employer is entitled to one unpaid 30-minute meal period on shifts over 5 hours and a second unpaid 30-minute meal period on shifts over 10 hours. An employee who is directly employed by an employer is to be entitled to a rest period based on the total hours worked daily at the rate of 10 minutes net rest time per 4 hours or major fraction. Failure to provide an employee a meal period or rest period would require the employer to pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that the meal or rest period is not provided.
Section 512.2 states that the requirement to provide a meal or rest period pursuant to an applicable statute, regulation, ordinance, standard, or order does not apply to an airline cabin crew employee if the employee that meets either of the two specified conditions.
Section 512.5 provided that, if the Industrial Welfare Commission adopts or amends an order that applies to an employee of a public agency who operates a commercial motor vehicle, it may exempt that employee from the application of the provisions of that order which relate to meal periods or rest periods, consistent with the health and welfare of that employee, if he or she is covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement.
Section 513 provides that, if an employer approves a written request of an employee to make up work time that is or would be lost as a result of a personal obligation of the employee, the hours of that makeup work time, if performed in the same workweek in which the work time was lost, may not be counted towards computing the total number of hours worked in a day for purposes of the overtime requirements, except for hours in excess of 11 hours of work in one day or 40 hours in one workweek.
Section 514 states that Sections 510 and 511 do not apply to an employee covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement if the agreement expressly provides for the wages, hours of work, and working conditions of the employees, and if the agreement provides premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked and a regular hourly rate of pay for those employees of not less than 30 percent more than the state minimum wage.
Section 515 authorizes the Industrial Welfare Commission may establish exemptions from the requirement that an overtime rate of compensation be paid for executive, administrative, and professional employees, if the employee is primarily engaged in the duties that meet the test of the exemption, customarily and regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment in performing those duties, and earns a monthly salary equivalent to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.
Section 515.5 requires that an employee in the computer software field is exempt from the requirement that an overtime rate of compensation be paid if all of the specified requirements apply. In addition, this exemption does not apply to an employee if any specified conditions apply.
Section 515.6 provides that Section 510 does not apply to any employee who is a licensed physician or surgeon, who is primarily engaged in duties that require licensure, and whose hourly rate of pay is equal to or greater than $55.
Section 515.7 states that, if an employee is employed to provide instruction for a course or laboratory at an independent institution of higher education, the employee is to be classified as employed in a professional capacity and be exempt from specified provisions of the Labor when all specified conditions apply.
Section 515.8 provides that Section 510 does not apply to an individual employed as a teacher at a private elementary or secondary academic institution in which pupils are enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12.
Section 516 authorizes the Industrial Welfare Commission to 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.
Section 517 requires the Industrial Welfare Commission to have adopted wage, hours, and working conditions orders consistent with this area of law without convening wage boards, which orders shall be final and conclusive for all purposes.
Section 550 defines the term “day’s rest.” Section 551 provides that every person employed in any occupation of labor is entitled to one day’s rest in seven days. Section 551 prohibits an employer to cause their employees to work more than six days in seven. Section 553 state that any person who violates this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Section 554 specifies that Sections 551 and 552 do not apply to cases of emergency or to work performed in the protection of life or property from loss or destruction, or to any common carrier engaged in or connected with the movement of trains.
Section 555 states that Sections 550, 551, 552 and 554 of this chapter are applicable to cities which are cities and counties and to the officers and employees of them. Section 556 provides that Sections 551 and 552 do not apply to any employer or employee when the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week or six hours in any one day.
Section 558 provides that any employer or other person acting on behalf of an employer who violates, or causes to be violated, a section of this chapter or any provision regulating hours and days of work in any order of the Industrial Welfare Commission is subject to specified civil penalties for initial and subsequent violations.
Section 558.1 provides that any employer or other person acting on behalf of an employer, who violates, or causes to be violated, any provision regulating minimum wages or hours and days of work in any order of the Industrial Welfare Commission, or violates, or causes to be violated specified Labor Code provisions may be held liable as the employer for each violation.