Flexibility Allowed In Timing And Scheduling of Meal And Rest Breaks
As all of you are aware, we have always recommended the strict timing of breaks and lunches. In a recent article I mentioned that the California Court of Appeals, in Brinker Restaurant Corp v. Superior Court, determined that an employer does not have to “Ensure” that an employee takes their break. The only obligation is not to “Prevent” an employee from taking their break
On the issue of the timing of breaks, Brinker also held that rest breaks need not be taken in the middle of every four hours if it would be impractical to do so. Furthermore, employees also need not take their first rest break before the scheduled meal period if it would be impractical to do so. The court made it clear that “Although adhering to such schedules for rest breaks is ideal, where the nature of the work or the circumstances of a particular employee make it impractical to do so, employers and employees have the discretion to schedule breaks at other times.” The Court’s decision provides the employer the flexibility necessary to ensure adequate staffing during peak business hours and permits employees to provide optimum service to customers.
Now look you guys, this decision really does help you with the timing of breaks and lunches but DON’T GO CRAZY ON ME!! Please try to stick to a routine that makes sense and ensure that breaks and lunches are taken. Use the decision for the “Exception” to the rule, not as a general way of doing things. It simply gives you some flexibility during the peak business hours or an unexpected wave of customer service needs. If you have any questions please let me know!