Giving workers and employers flexibility makes sense for families

  • By Senator: Tom Berryhill

Getting government out of the way so that businesses can thrive and prosper continues to be my top legislative priority. Frivolous or ‘gotcha’ lawsuits continue to divert valuable resources from expanding a business and hiring people to fighting the lawsuits.  The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) are just two of the areas I am actively pursuing legislation to reduce red tape and lawsuit abuse.  In fact, just last month I held a townhall in Clovis on ADA compliance and how to avoid a lawsuit.

Another area I am interested in is loosening California’s overtime rules to give more flexibility to employers and employees in establishing work schedules.  I have introduced Senate Bill 368 (SB 368), legislation that would permit employees and employers to develop a mutually agreeable alternative workweek schedule if the employee requests the modification.

SB 368 would permit an individual employee, with the consent of his or her employer; to adopt an alternative workweek schedule providing for up to 10-hour workdays within a 40-hour workweek.

Since 1999, California law has mandated that employees must be paid overtime after working an eight hour day, as opposed to federal standards, where overtime is paid after putting in 40-hours in a week. While there are some exceptions to the law, in practicality, they are very difficult to enact. This restrictive scheduling model is rare – only four other states have similar statutes – and I think it should be eliminated.

Under California’s system if an employee works more than eight hours in a day, the pay rate jumps to 1.5 times the normal pay. This is incredibly expensive for businesses and an additional expense many companies cannot afford, and many workers might be willing to forgo in exchange for a shorter work week. Why not let employees and employers work out a mutually agreeable schedule?

Balancing family and work schedules is always a struggle. This bill would make it easier for workers and their employers to come up with a work schedule that meets everyone’s needs.  If you can get your job done in four ten hour days – why not do it and take an extra day with your kids?  This should be something between an employee and an employer – not an employee, an employer and the State of California.

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