Q. We need to schedule an employee for a shift from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. in order to close our store and begin a shift the next morning at 8 a.m. to open the store. Does California law require a minimum amount of time, such as 12 hours, in between scheduled shifts?
A. No, state law does not require 12 hours between shifts. According to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, “[g]enerally speaking, most employees can be called back to work at any time pursuant to an employer’s directions.” Nevertheless, the state agency cautions employers to consider safety concerns for employees when scheduling shifts to avoid injuries due to fatigue.
Likewise, there are no daily limits on how many hours employers may schedule employees to work. Again, the state agency cautions employers to “be careful and consider employee fatigue, employee commutes and employee morale when implementing any alternate work schedules” and urges employers “to consider employee needs, such as child care or elder care, before implementing any changes.”
However, some regulations and statutes contained in the orders and the Labor Code restrict the number of hours that an employee can work in a workday and workweek. Labor Code section 551, for example, requires employers to provide employees one day of rest for every seven worked. In addition, some provisions limit the number of hours that employees in certain occupations (such as pharmacists, train dispatchers, and train operators) may work.
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