California employers might receive much-needed clarification on whether and to what extent employees can remain “on call” during rest breaks.  On April 29, 2015, the California Supreme Court granted review of Augustus v. ABM Sec. Services, Inc., Nos. B243788 & B247392 (Cal. Ct. App. Jan. 29, 2015).

Earlier this year, the California Court of Appeal ruled that security guards were provided lawful rest breaks even though the company required the guards to remain “on call” during the rest breaks.  In so holding, the Court of Appeal ruled that remaining on call during rest breaks does not “constitute performing work” under Section 226.7 of the Labor Code and the applicable wage order.  For additional details about the underlying decision, please see our prior blog post.

The California Supreme Court’s recent grant of review might clarify rest break rules for all employers.  While the case directly involves on call security guards, virtually every employer could be impacted by clarification of whether on call rest breaks are consistent with the “authorize and permit” standard under California law.

Employees must be authorized and permitted to take paid ten minute rest breaks for each 4 hours of work, or major fraction thereof.  Most agree paid rest breaks can be waived by employees, but resolution of whether on call rest breaks comply with California law might impact whether rest breaks must be duty-free and uninterrupted.  A decision from the Supreme Court next year might provide further guidance for California employers.