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New state law gives leeway on some meal, rest breaks

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The rules for meal and rest breaks just got a little more flexible for some California employers, following enactment of a new state law. Assembly Bill 569, which took effect Jan. 1, exempts some construction workers, commercial drivers, security guards and utility workers from the state’s usual break requirements.

Most California employees are entitled to a paid 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked and a meal break of at least 30 minutes (paid, unless they’re relieved of all work duties) if they work for more than five hours per day. The new law is an acknowledgment that such breaks are impractical in some jobs.

The big caveat: The break exemption applies only to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Advice: Check with your attorney to determine if the exemption covers your employees. The new law—AB 569—amended sections 512(a) and 512.7 of the California Labor Code.

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