AB 510 Proposed Bill to Relax Complicated Restrictions For Employers to Implement Alternative Work-Week Schedules

Assemblyman John J. Benoit proposed new legislation (AB 510) on March 15, 2007 to give more flexibility to California hourly employees to alter their workweek schedules. Under current California law, employers must pay non-exempt employees time-and-one-half for work beyond eight hours in one day and the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day worked in a single workweek. Double-time is owed for all time worked over 12 hours in a single day, and all hours beyond eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day in a single workweek. Currently, the law is very inflexible to allow employees and employers to agree to a different working arrangement.

Alternative workweek schedules are permitted under California law, but the process is so cumbersome, and the potential liability is large if done improperly, many employers do not offer their employees this option. For example, in order to establish an alternative workweek under the current law employers need to propose the alternative workweek schedule to employees, hold at least one meeting about the new schedule, hold a secret ballot election, file the election results with the Division of Labor Statistics and Research, and retain documentation of the entire process. Also, once the alternative workweek is established for a "work unit" every employee, with every few exceptions, in the "work unit" must work the alternative workweek schedule. If this detailed process is done improperly, it could invalidate the alternative workweek, exposing the employer to liability of three to four years of back overtime for the employees working the alternative workweek.

AB 510 is a proposed solution to allow more flexibility for employers and employees to develop an alternative workweek schedule to accommodate each individual's work and personal scheduling needs. The bill would allow an individual employee to adopt a schedule that provides for 10-hour workdays in a four-day workweek. If the employer agrees to the proposed four-day workweek schedule, the employee will be paid at straight time rates. Any work performed beyond the 10 hours per day or beyond the four days would remain subject to current California overtime requirements.

Employer's Obligations to Allow Employees Access Personnel Records

All employees have the right to inspect, at a reasonable time, their personnel files that are used or have been used to determine the employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, termination or other disciplinary action. (Labor Code § 1198.5) Employers are required to permit current or former employees to inspect or copy records maintained which provide payroll information.

Employees are entitled to copies of any document signed by the employee or job applicant, if requested. (Labor Code § 432)

All employers must provide employees or the employee's representative(s) access to accurate records of employee exposure to potentially toxic materials or harmful physical agents. (Labor Code § 6408(d))

Employment records may be subpoenaed from a current or former employer by a third party. If employment records are subpoenaed, the employee must be notified and has the right to object to production of the records. (Code of Civil Procedure § 1985.6)