Traditional overtime law returns to California |

Traditional overtime law returns to California

After only two years, employees return to the eight hour daily grind.

The California Legislature has passed an overtime law that will go into effect for most businesses Jan. 1, 2000. It overturns Gov. Wilson’s overtime work week of 40 hours or more and reinstates the historic Californian overtime pay for work that exceeds eight hours per day.

The new law states that time and a half will be paid for over 8 hours of work in one day, double time for over 12 hours, or as arranged by contract. Employees can decide an alternate schedule through a secret ballot with two-thirds staff approval.

The law also provides employees with make-up time for time lost due to personal obligations. If an employer approves an employee request for time off, the employee will be able to make up the time in the same week if the employee does not work more than 11 hours in one shift or more than 40 hours in a week.

According to Assembly Bill 60, introduced by Wally Knox, D-Los Angeles, the ski industry, commercial fishing industry, health care industry, licensed pharmacists, outside sales persons, and stable employees in the horse racing industry have until July 1, 2000 for the law to go into effect. The additional time allows for the Industrial Welfare Commission to review wages, hours and working conditions before rendering portions of the law necessary for such industries.

The IWC can hold a public hearing for the specified industries above prior to July 1, 2000 as they do not have wage boards.

Opponents of the bill claim the current 40 hour work week allowed for more flexibility, meaning a greater chance of increased pay in a shorter timespan.

Restaurant servers in the area will have negative feelings about the bill, said George West, General Manager of Chevy’s Fresh Mex Restaurant in South Lake Tahoe. “It is very detrimental to the employee,” West said.

“Tipped employees would much rather work 10 hours a day for four days and have the rest of the days off to have fun.”

Typically, servers work in the industry so that they can work double shifts if they choose to. With the new law, West said, “they can work one shift a day and that’s it.”

As a result of the new law, West estimates that Chevy’s will increase its current serving staff of 35-40, by 10 percent or more. Managers will not be affected as they are salaried.

Servers aren’t the only ones who are displeased with the law.

Although employees at Barton Memorial Hospital would rather keep the 40 hour work week, they voted in February to accept an administrative plan that made adjustments that “work for everybody. The adjustments concerned hospital staff’s typical 10-12 hour days and the evening out of pay.

CEO Bill Gordon, said the vote was “virtually unanimous.”

According to Gordon, the state has incorrectly assumed that employees who work long shifts are being punished. “They love it,” Gordon said. He said single parents especially enjoy it because they have more time to spend with their kids and to work at other jobs if they want to.

For now business continues as it normally does, but Gordon and hospital employees are working together to change the law. “We’re going to lobby hard to convince the state to exempt 12 hour shifts.” In the meantime Gordon is confident that the staff has accepted the present situation.

“We made adjustments that work for everybody.”

Monica Bandows, spokesperson for Heavenly Ski Resort, said that since the law won’t affect the ski industry until July, it does not affect the current ski season. As for the summer season?

“We’re all at 40 hours anyway,” Bandows said.

As for retail employees, manager of Kmart in South Lake Tahoe, Lori Ormonde, said the new law won’t change things much at her workplace. “We don’t have any long shifts now,” Ormonde said.

The only time Ormonde thinks the law will affect the store is when extra help is needed.

Kathy Libicki, Director of Human Resources for El Dorado County, understands the law applies to state employees, not county or city employees. She said the Fair Labor Standards Act has a 40-hour standard and that counties and cities are covered by the federal government.

“Say we are busy and need to keep someone on, we can’t have them stay.”

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