California Pending Bills Suggest Trend Towards Flexible Work Arrangements | CDF Labor Law LLP
As local and state governments move towards a complete reopening of the public and private labor sectors, after an unprecedented year in which remote working has become a strategy to deal with a global pandemic, companies are turning their backs on are currently asking how to physically fire employees back to work. The California legislature is weighing in on the heart of the matter by proposing two bills to give employers and employees more leeway to agree to mutually beneficial “flexible hours”.
Bill 230 of the Assembly (the Workplace Flexibility Act of 2021) and Assembly Bill 1028 (Telework Flexibility Act of 2021), introduced in February, would give hourly workers the right to request flexible working hours to work up to four 10-hour days per week. With this request, the employer would not have to pay overtime for the 9th and 10th hours worked per day in this schedule. In addition, the Telework Flexibility Act of 2021 would give remote workers more flexibility to plan their meal times and breaks.
Such proposals are not entirely uncommon under California law. Work week schedules that deviate from the typical five day work week (in terms of hours worked and overtime) can be worked, for example:
- Under collective agreements negotiated by an employee union, or
- When an employee is part of a work unit in which an “Alternative Work Week Schedule” (AWS) proposed by the employer has been specifically approved through a duly organized election.
However, unlike these options, the proposed legislation gives much more power to the individual employee to request flexible work hours and offer the employer these overtime savings in return. Under such an arrangement, if the employer chooses to approve the request (but is certainly not obligated to do so), the employer is released from the obligation to pay overtime unless the The employee does not work more than 10 hours per day or 40 hours per work week. .
At this time, these bills are still under consideration by the state legislature. The bills have been sent to committee, where they can hear evidence for or against the bill before voting on it. The introduction of these bills will be seen by some as recognition that flexible working arrangements can be more enjoyable, and even preferred, for both employers and employees.