Workers in California generally work extremely hard for their employers. As a result, employers are expected to offer adequate rest times and meal breaks.
In fact, the law in California requires employees to be given a 10-minute paid break for each hour they work. However, there are certain circumstances where an employer can ask workers to stay on-call.
Workers have a right to rest breaks (with a few exceptions)
Typically, workers in California have a right to 10-minute rest breaks every hour as well as a meal break of at least 30 minutes. During these times, employees are entitled to be free from any work-related tasks or pressures. Often, employers will ask workers to keep work phones on them and answer immediately when called. Crucially, however, workers are entitled to spend their allocated rest times as they see fit.
Nonetheless, there are some exceptions to this rule. Some exempt employees, most notably emergency responders, may be kept on call during rest breaks due to the nature of their profession.
Other employees who are commonly exempt from the rest break rules include certain administrative workers, executive employees as well as other management positions. Identifying whether you are exempt or not can be a tricky process. However, California Labor Code section 515 offers some insight into the types of employees who may be permitted to remain on-call during rest breaks.
Employers in California have a duty to ensure that the working environment and conditions remain suitable at all times. If you believe your employment rights have been violated, you should remember that there are legal options open to you.