California Meal & Rest Break Law: How eStratEx Timekeeping Guides Compliance

California Meal & Rest Break Law: How eStratEx Timekeeping Guides Compliance

California has some of the most precise and stringent employment laws in the United States. Though this benefits the masses, it puts employers in the restaurant industry at risk of getting sued for violation of laws they may not know exist. This is stifling for businesses, as one complaint can easily snowball into countless lawsuits and massive debt.

One law in particular that restaurant owners must comply with is the California Meal & Rest Break Law. This regulation requires that all employees that work for five hours or more must be provided an uninterrupted 30-minute break. In addition, employees who work shifts longer than three and a half hours are entitled to a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked. If the employee is not provided a reasonable opportunity to take these breaks, the employee is entitled to a premium of one hour’s pay as reimbursement.

If this law is misinterpreted or ignored, hefty lawsuits can ensue. In 2016 alone, nearly $40 million was awarded to over 45,000 restaurant workers in California. Alternatively, manual tracking can take a large chunk out of your day and become quite literally impossible to maintain in the long-term. To save you the stress of keeping track of every individual employee, StratEx has the option to turn on Meal Break Feedback.

Why StratEx Does Things Differently?

Nearly all alternative HR platforms will track an employee’s break time and prevent an employee from punching back in if their break has been less than 30 minutes. However, this ‘solution’ does not alone satisfy compliance with California Law, as it is unclear if the employee was relieved of all duty. If the employee disagrees with their reported break time, they have no easy way of contesting it. This likely results in uncomfortable manager confrontation, potentially leading to turnover or legal action.

StratEx has enabled a more thorough response system so that there is clarity and assurance that the break is appropriately managed. Further, we track all responses so that if a lawsuit did occur, you have the appropriate documentation to combat it.

How StratEx Guides Compliance

When an employee works five hours or more, StratEx prompts the employee upon clock out to declare whether they received their 30-minute meal break as well as their 10-minute allotted rest break(s). If the employee checks “no”, the system will then ask the employee for a short explanation of why they feel the break was not provided. Once the response has been recorded on their timesheet, StratEx will automatically create the appropriate penalty payment, and clearly denote the explanation on that employee’s timesheet. The payment and comments are disputable and editable from the manager’s perspective if for any reason the information produced is incorrect

What is the employer’s responsibility?

It is important to educate your staff on their rights and the significance of abiding by the company break policy. Additionally, StratEx provides employees with the ability to learn more if they are unaware of the current laws in place. When asked whether or not the employee had received the appropriate breaks, they have the option of clicking a Question Mark icon. This enables a pop-up explanation that provides clarity to what exactly the law states. This facet, along with continuing internal awareness, can better prepare you and your staff and help keep you compliant.

StratEx’s Meal Break Feedback tool combined with employee/employer knowledge, allows you to guard against compliance risk, as well as relieve you of the stresses of tracking and evaluating proper breaks.

For more information or to set up Meal Break Feedback in eStratEx, contact your StratEx representative or request a demo today!