California: Meal Waivers in Health Care Industry Have Always Been Valid

APPLIES TO

 All Employers with CA Employees in the Health Care Industry

EFFECTIVE

March 1, 2017

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Are meal waivers for shifts over 12 hours long valid? In Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, the original 2015 decision partially invalidated use of such meal waivers in the healthcare industry. In response to the decision, SB 327 was signed into law, permitting use of such waivers. With the introduction of the bill, the ongoing Gerard case sought resolution for a remaining facet of the case: whether or not meal waivers used prior to the enactment of SB 327 are considered valid.

A California Court of Appeal stated the Industrial Wage Commission may adopt rules in Wage Orders that are contrary to Labor Code section 512, which controls employee break regulations. As a result, the court confirmed that employer meal waivers used prior to October 5, 2015, the date SB 327 went into effect, are valid. Employers will not face retroactive liability for use of such waivers.

It is possible that the recent ruling concerning retroactive liability may be appealed. ManagEase will continue to report on further developments to the Gerard litigation, if any.

Action Items

  1. Employers in the healthcare industry should review meal and rest period practices and ensure that any current and previously used waivers meet requirements imposed by Wage Orders 4 and 5 and SB 327.
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