Viewing blog posts written by Gino DiCaro

Dear Abby: My boss says I can leave work but California won't let me

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on June 4, 2008

Driving home at 5:00 pm yesterday gave me pause.  For those of you working in the Sacramento area during the month-long Interstate 5 closure, here's a thought: skip your lunch hour, eat a baloney sandwich at your desk, then take off early to navigate the roundabout maze of sidestreets with a lot less traffic.  You'll get your work done quicker, your family time will increase and your gas consumption might even decrease a little.   Just one of the myriad of situations where alternative work schedules could benefit California's workforce and economy.   I can do it but many "non-exempt" hourly workers in California can't.  Even with a mutual agreement between employers and employees, California law prohibits any flexibility in meal and rest period provisions.  Or at least it's so loosely written that it opens the doors to massive class-action lawsuits after the slightest meal period adjustment.

Even Labor unions can't use collective bargaining to negotiate alternative meal schedules under the existing Statute.  If you are a non-exempt employee you are stuck in a centuries-old work schedule environment.  If you are an employer, allowing any efficiencies that benefit the worker's schedule opens your company to litigation, forcing you to police your own workforce.

Some have called it "Rest when it's best" policy.  Some call it "Meal and Rest flexibility".  Some call it "Comprehensive reform for meal periods rules".  Some call it "Catching up with our 21st Century work environments".  Let's just call it FAIR.  Fair to both worker and employer ... and absolutely necessary in today's intensely competitive, and information technology driven, workplace.

Industries and employees are demanding a fix to this stringent regulation and there was a seminal acknowledgement of the problem two months ago in the State Senate Labor Committee, but the negotiations quickly fell apart.  It's time for California to provide the flexibility our workers need.   Help.

Original industry support letter for SB 1539

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