Committee Rejects Flexible Workweek Bill

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JobCreatorA California Chamber of Commerce-supported job creator bill providing employers with the flexibility to accommodate employees’ needs was rejected by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on June 22.

SB 985 (Berryhill; R-Twain Harte) would have provided employers with the opportunity to accommodate employees’ needs as well as business demands by allowing employees to request a voluntary, flexible workweek agreement that can be repealed by the employee at any time with proper notice.

SB 985 sought to eliminate the burdensome alternative workweek election process and allow the employee the opportunity to request a four, 10-hour day workweek schedule that will address the needs of both the employer and employee.

California is one of only three states that requires employers to pay daily overtime after eight hours of work and weekly overtime after 40 hours of work. Even the other two states that impose daily overtime requirements allow the employer and employee to essentially waive the daily eight-hour overtime requirement through a written agreement.

California, however, requires employers to navigate through a multi-step process to have employees elect an alternative workweek schedule that, once adopted, must be “regularly” scheduled.

This process is filled with potential traps for costly litigation, as one misstep may render the entire alternative workweek schedule invalid and leave the employer on the hook for claims of unpaid overtime wages.

SB 985 would have relieved employers, especially smaller employers, from the administrative cost and burden of adopting an alternative workweek schedule.

Key Vote

SB 985 failed to pass Senate Labor and Industrial Relations on a party-line vote:

Aye: J. Stone (R-Temecula).

Noes: Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), Leno (D-San Francisco), Mendoza (D-Artesia), Mitchell (D-Los Angeles).

Staff Contact: Jennifer Barrera

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Jennifer Barrera
About Jennifer Barrera
Jennifer Barrera, senior policy advocate, works with the executive vice president in developing policy strategy and represents the CalChamber on labor and employment, taxation and legal reform issues. Before joining the CalChamber in September 2010, she worked at a statewide law firm that specializes in labor/employment defense. She also advised small and large businesses on compliance issues, presented seminars on employment-related topics, and authored articles in human resources publications. Barrera earned a B.A. in English from California State University, Bakersfield, and a J.D. with high honors from California Western School of Law.