SB 434 amends Labor Code section 226.7 (formerly addressing rest and meal periods only) to add a new “recovery period” obligation on employers. So like rest and meal periods, California employers are now required to provide “recovery periods.”
A “recovery period” is defined as “a cool down period afforded an employee to prevent heat illness.” Talk about a vague and ambiguous standard that will undoubtedly result in inconsistent application of employee rights.
For example, how will one know whether the “cool down period” was required unless and until the employee suffers heat illness? When is the employer supposed to know when a “cool down” period is required such as not to require the employee to work instead? Seems like the individual’s particular physiology might affect application of this rule.
How long is this “recovery period?” Rest and meal periods at least have a temporal component, 10 and 30 minutes respectively. An employee tells you they are going to take a “recovery period,” now what? Can we expect them back in 5 minutes, 45 minutes, when they have “cooled down” (i.e. when they feel like it)?
Does it have to be paid? Not answered by SB 434. Logically, one might surmise this “recovery period” only applies to working conditions that require some level of physical assertion in a “hot environment.” We’re not doctors, but we surmise this could relate to many unsuspecting work environments, such as restaurants, bakeries, dry cleaners, automobile dealerships, service, cleaning and janitorial services, in additional to the obvious ones, farm labor, outside laborers (yard work) and all construction industries.
Unfortunately, this is bound to result in more California litigation when it seems to us common sense without the rule has worked just fine thus far.
Your handbook should be updated for this one – see more about updating handbooks for 2014 here.