The “Day of Rest” Requirement is Now Clear for California Employers

Author: Wendy L. Hillger

Last month, the California Supreme Court issued an important ruling for employers concerning the state’s “day of rest” statute for employees.  California Labor Code sections 551[1] and 552[2] entitle employees to one day’s rest in seven and to not be caused to work more than six days in seven.  The question before the Court in Mendoza v. Nordstrom, Inc.  was whether this protection applies on a week-by-week basis or on a rolling basis.  The Court explained the difference:

Under the weekly interpretation, the calendar is divided into seven-day blocks, and these provisions ensure at least one day of rest in each block, but an early day of rest in one week and a late day of rest in the next may lead to an employee working seven, eight, or more days in a row—though no more than six days out of seven, on average.  Under the rolling interpretation, the provisions apply on an ongoing day-by-day basis, so that any employee who has worked the preceding six days in a row is presumptively entitled to rest on the next day.

One of the employees who sued Nordstrom had worked each day from Friday, January 14, 2011, to Friday, January 21, 2011.   Nordstrom’s workweek was Sunday to Saturday.  The Court ruled this was not a Labor Code violation, after a lengthy review of the statute’s text, the legislative history, the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders and the general statutory scheme.  The unanimous Supreme Court noted, “We conclude sections 551 and 552, fairly read in light of all the available evidence, are most naturally read to ensure employees at least one day of rest during each [work]week, rather than one day in every seven on a rolling basis.”

 

There are some exceptions:

1) This protection is not applicable for workers who do not work more than six hours in any day of the workweek;

2)  Employees can work more than seven days in a row if they are given time off equivalent to one day’s rest in seven days.

 

[1] “Every person employed in any occupation of labor is entitled to one day’s rest therefrom in seven.”

[2] “No employer of labor shall cause his employees to work more than six days in seven.”

By Scripta Ad Astra Staff

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