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Reconciling rest periods and restrooms

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in Human Resources

Q. We operate a labor-intensive factory that requires workers to remain at their stations throughout most of the workday. Is it legal to require workers to use their 10-minute rest period to use the restroom?

A. The California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement has taken the position that the 10-minute rest period is not designed to be exclusively for the use of toilet facilities. 

Provisions of the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) wage orders support this position. Section 12, “Rest Periods,” read in conjunction with Section 13(B), “Change Rooms and Resting Facilities,” states: “Suitable resting facilities shall be provided in an area separate from toilet rooms and shall be available during work hours.” 

Thus, allowing employees to use toilet facilities during working hours does not meet the employer’s obligation to provide rest periods as required by the IWC wage orders.

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