CHA News Article

California Supreme Court Issues Brinker Meal Period Decision

Today, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Brinker v. Superior Court, which addressed California employers’ obligation to provide meal and rest periods. In short, the decision is very good news for employers. Specifically, with regard to meal periods, the court concluded that employers have an obligation to make off-duty meal periods available, but need not police employees to ensure that no work is performed. Secondly, the court sided with employers on the timing of meal periods. The court held that, absent a waiver, an employer must provide the first meal period no later than the end of an employee’s fifth hour of work, and a second meal period no later than the end of an employee’s tenth hour of work. Thus, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that a second meal period obligation could be triggered before 10 hours of work if an employee took an “early” meal period. 

With regard to rest periods, the court concluded that employees are entitled to 10 minutes of rest for shifts from three and a half hours to six hours in length; 20 minutes of rest for shifts of more than six hours up to 10 hours; 30 minutes of rest for shifts of more than 10 hours up to 14 hours; and so on. As far as the timing of the rest period(s), employers are “subject to a duty to make a good faith effort to authorize and permit rest breaks in the middle of each work period, but may deviate from that preferred course where practical considerations render it infeasible.”    

CHA Web Seminar to Outline Decision’s Impact

While the decision is good news for employers, an underlying message in the court’s decision indicates that policies, training and other operational considerations are critically important. CHA is presenting a members-only web seminar April 24, 10:30 a.m. – noon, to provide more insight into the decision as well as to provide practical advice on how to comply. For more information on the seminar and to register, go to www.calhospital.org/ca-supreme-court-brinker-decision-web.

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