Law360 Publishes McLaughlin/Petersen Article on California Heat Recovery Pay

“Beating The Heat With Calif.'s New 'Recovery Period' Law,” an article by Akin Gump labor partner Gary McLaughlin and associate Chris Petersen, has been published by Law360.

The article discusses the recent modification of the California Labor Code’s compensation for meal or rest periods not taken to include “recovery periods”—breaks in the shade when working outdoors in high temperatures.

As the authors note, “Although recovery periods themselves are not new, until now there was no monetary remedy available to employees. As this financial incentive will surely spur litigation over recovery periods in the coming years, it is important for employers with employees who work outdoors in hot weather to ensure that their policies and procedures are in compliance.”

The article goes on to outline the history of recovery period requirements, beginning in 2005, when the “California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted Section 3395 of the California OSHA regulations…in order to address the health risks of heat exposure for employees working outdoors in high temperatures.”

The authors trace the application of meal and rest period standards to recovery periods and offer compliance recommendations such as:

  • “The first step to complying with the recovery period requirements is ensuring that proper shade (or alternative procedures, if permitted) is provided in accordance with the regulations.”
  • “The safe approach would be for all employers with workers who might spend any significant amounts of time working outdoors, even infrequently, to have a written policy for providing recovery periods during times of outdoor work and to communicate that policy to those employees.
  • “Maintaining proper policies and procedures will be key to defending against litigation, especially class litigation.”

The article closes with observations on controlling abuse of the recovery period system.

To read the full article, please click here.