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:
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:
- An employer may allow an employee to independently choose not to take a day of rest if the employee is fully apprised of his or her entitlement to rest; and
- An exemption from the day of rest law for employees working shifts of six hours or less applies only to those who never exceed six hours of work on any day of the workweek.