California Employees May Work More Than Six Days in a Row, Court Rules

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

May 9, 2017

A California law guarantees employees a "day of rest" for each workweek. But that doesn't mean that employees are prohibited from working for more than six consecutive days, as long as those periods of work stretch across more than one workweek, a court has ruled.

As the Supreme Court of California explained in Mendoza v. Nordstrom, Inc., the calendar is divided into seven-day blocks. The day of rest law ensures employees get at least one day of rest in each block, but an early day of rest in one week and a late day of rest in the next may lead to an employee working seven, eight or more days in a row - although no more than six days out of seven, on average.

So for example, the following schedule would not violate the day of rest law, even though the employee works for 12 consecutive days:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest Work Work Work Work Work Work
Work Work Work Work Work Work Rest

The plaintiffs in the case had argued the day of rest law should be interpreted on a rolling basis, so that an employee who had worked the preceding six days in a row would presumptively be entitled to rest on the next day. But the court rejected that argument, finding nothing to suggest that legislators had intended to prevent employees from ever working more than six consecutive days.

The court also resolved two other unsettled questions about the day of rest law, ruling that: