In Mendoza v. Nordstrom, the California Supreme Court recently provided much needed guidance about a non-exempt employee’s entitlement to a day of rest in a workweek. California Labor Code Sections 551 and 552 provide that an employee has the right to receive one day of rest—and an employer shall not cause an employee to work more than six days—“in seven.” The court concluded that compliance is measured by the defined workweek, and not on a rolling basis. It further held that an “employer cannot affirmatively seek to motivate an employee’s forsaking rest, but neither need it act to prevent such forsaking.”

The court also evaluated Section 556, which creates one (of several) exceptions to the day of rest obligation. It provides that Sections 551 and 552 do not apply “when the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week or six hours in any one day thereof.” The court concluded that the six hour cap applied to each and every day of the applicable workweek, such that the day-of-rest obligation would apply if the employee worked more than six hours at least one day in the applicable workweek. The court declined to opine on whether Section 556’s test was conjunctive (meaning both the weekly and daily conditions must be satisfied) or disjunctive (meaning only one condition must be satisfied), as resolution was not necessary for the matter.

This clarification provides employers with significant non-exempt employee populations an opportunity to review and ensure scheduling practices—formal and informal—comply with day-of-rest obligations.