Effective January 1, 2011, Assembly Bill 569 exempts construction workers, commercial drivers, certain security officers and employees of electrical and gas corporations or publicly owned electric utilities from California’s meal break requirements IF those employees are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement containing specified terms, including meal period provisions.
Don’t forget, California has two court decisions currently on appeal to the California Supreme Court so the current state of affairs regarding breaks is still somewhat up in the air. The California Supreme Court should be making a decision within the next six months (hopefully) so in the meantime PLEASE make sure employees are aware (put up signs) that they are entitled to their ten minute breaks and obviously their 30 minute uninterrupted lunch break no later than the start of the fifth hour.
Heat Illness Regulations
Effective November 4, 2010, the California Labor Commissioner issued new heat regulations that apply to all outdoor places of employment where the temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The regulations, enforceable by Cal-OSHA, require that employers must provide sufficient shade to accommodate at least 25 percent of the workforce at one time, cool down periods of no less than 5 minutes upon request, as well as a specified amount of drinking water per hour worked. The regulations also include changes to training requirements for both supervisory and nonsupervisory employees. Such training is now required to be given to before employees begin work if the type of work anticipated may result in exposure to the risk of heat illness.
No More COBRA Subsidies
As you are aware, as part of the federal economic stimulus package, the American Recovery Investment Act of 2009 required employers pay 65% of group healthcare insurance plan premiums of COBRA eligible employees who involuntarily terminated from their employment between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009. Several subsequent federal laws extended the subsidy eligibility period. At this time, involuntary terminations after MAY 31, 2010, do not qualify for a subsidy, and all subsidy payments will stop by no later than AUGUST 31, 2011.