NEW LAW: California Exempts Certain Employees At Petroleum Facilities From Rest And Recovery Period Requirements

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed AB 2605 into law.  This new law adds a new section to the California Labor Code (section 226.75) and exempts unionized employees who hold safety-sensitive positions at petroleum facilities from California’s rest and recovery period requirements.

Specifically, the new law states that the requirement that employees must be relieved of all duties during rest periods does not apply to an employee in a safety-sensitive position at a petroleum facility to the extent that the employee is required to do the following during a rest period:

  • carry and monitor a communication device (e.g. a radio, pager, cell phone, etc.),
  • respond to emergencies,
  • remain on employer premises to monitor the premises and respond to emergencies.

If the employee is required to interrupt his or her rest period to address an emergency, after the emergency has been addressed the employer is required to “promptly” provide the employee with a “make up” rest period.  If that “make up” rest period is not provided, then the employer will be required to pay the employee the missed rest period premium (i.e. one hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay)

For purposes of this new law, the following terms mean:

  • “Petroleum facilities” means petroleum refineries, marine and onshore terminals handling crude oil and petroleum products, bulk marketing terminals, asphalt plants, gas plants, catalyst plants, carbon plants, and any other facility involved in the processing, refining, transport, or storage of crude oil or petroleum products.
  • “Safety-sensitive position” means a job in which the employee’s job duties reasonably include responding to emergencies at a petroleum facility.
  • “Emergency” means a situation or event requiring prompt or immediate intervention to prevent or respond to a disruption in normal operations, which could cause harm to employees, equipment, the environment, or the community.

This law only applies to employees subject to Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 1 who meet both of the following criteria:

  • The employee is covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement.
  • The valid collective bargaining agreement expressly provides for the wages, hours of work, and working conditions of employees, and expressly provides for rest periods for those employees, final and binding arbitration of disputes concerning application of its rest period provisions, premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked, and a regular hourly rate of pay of not less than 30 percent more than the state minimum wage rate.

The new law goes into effect immediately and has a sunset date of January 1, 2021 (unless extended by the legislature).