On-Call Rest Breaks Now Illegal in California

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On December 22, 2016, the California Supreme Court, in Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., ruled that on-duty and on-call rest breaks violate state law.

In 2012, the security guards sued their employer for having a policy that required them to keep their pagers and walkie talkies on during their rest breaks in case of emergencies. The case finally made its way all the way up to the CA Sup. Ct. which upheld the award to the class of more than 14,000 security guards almost $90 million in statutory damages, interest, and penalties.

The Court stated that California “employers must relieve their employees of all duties and relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time.”  The Court ruled that “during rest periods employers must relieve employees of all duties and relinquish control over how employees spend their time.”

The Court held that, when the needs of the business require an employee to work during a rest break, employers may (a) provide employees with another rest period to replace one that was interrupted, or (b) pay the premium pay of one hour at the employee’s regular rate under Labor Code section 226.7 and the Wage Order.

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