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Meal and Rest Break Attestation in California 101 (Free Template)

Disover a convenient way to manage break attestations in California
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As California labor laws continue to become more stringent, the need for credible proof of adherence and precision in time and labor management has become a fundamental requirement for every business.

Non-compliance with meal and rest breaks can result in severe consequences, including legal class actions, hefty fines, and wage claims - all of which can damage your business’s reputation and reduce employee productivity. 

Given these substantial implications, how can you streamline and simplify adherence to California laws and policies to minimize compliance risk? 

Employee attestation is a powerful compliance tool that captures precise employee attestation responses in real-time during punch-in and punch-out. It safeguards employers in case an employee complains about the accuracy of their timecard. Furthermore, it empowers managers to monitor attestation status, generate reports, and simplify compliance.

This guide will explore all the elements of a meal and rest break attestation in California, including a free template on break attestation questions. We’ll also show how Timeero can simplify attestation for your company.

What Is Timesheet Attestation and Why Is It Important?

Employee timesheet attestation refers to the process of an employee confirming the accuracy and completeness of the hours they have worked for a particular pay period. 

The process involves the manager, supervisor, HR, or a designated authority reviewing timesheets, verifying clock-in and clock-out times, break durations, work hours, projects and task allocations, or assignments, then confirming that the information is accurate.

In the HR world, for instance, timesheet attestation involves employers asking questions such as:

  • Did you accurately record your clock-in and clock-out times for every day worked?
  • Did you take the required meal and rest break as per the company policy?
  • Did you know about your schedule with a notice of at least seven days before your shift started?

The question may vary, but the main goal of the attestation practices is to allow employers to ask questions that will solicit the answers they need for several reasons, the most significant being compliance. 

Timesheet attestation confirms the accuracy of employee work hours, tasks, and projects, which must align with the actual activities performed by the employee. By attesting to the accuracy of the timesheet, the employee confirms that they agree with the recorded work hours, which aids in accurate invoicing and project processing. 

Timesheet attestation not only helps prevent errors and discrepancies in payroll computation but also offers organizations the means to possess accurate documentation to prove their compliance with labor laws, collective bargaining agreements, and organization-specific policies.

What Is the Meal Period Attestation in California?

California meal period attestation signifies a formal acknowledgment by an employee that they have taken their required meal break during their work period as stipulated by California break laws.

This attestation proves that the employee adhered to state labor regulations by taking the designated 30-minute meal period after working 5 hours or a major fraction thereof. 

When an employee fails to take the required breaks, the employer must compensate the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular pay rate.

The employers use this attestation to maintain accurate records of employee meal breaks and demonstrate compliance with state labor laws. To the employees, the attestation signifies their agreement that they were granted the required break, as mandated by state laws. 

Do Employees Have To Approve Their Timesheets in California?

Under California laws, employers are responsible for recording and maintaining accurate records of non-exempt employees. This can be through an electronic timekeeping system to record all the required information or have the employee record their time manually or in a spreadsheet. However, all records must be thoroughly audited to ensure they are accurate. 

So, to maintain accuracy and compliance, employees may be asked to sign their time cards to confirm in writing that their time entries are accurate. It’s also a way to verify that they have been relieved of all duty and provided with all their meal and rest breaks during a particular payday. 

Do Salaried Employees Need To Fill Out a Timesheet in California?

Timesheets are a must for non-exempt employees. They provide accurate time records for the number of hours employees work for every pay period. 

But what about salaried employees?

Well, for salaried exempt employees, you’re not legally required to have them fill out a timesheet with hours worked, according to federal law. But this does not mean you cannot require your salaried employees to fill out a timesheet.

There are some situations where you may require salaried employees to fill out timesheets, including:

  • If salaried employees are entitled to sick leave and vacation time, you may need to track when they take their leave (sick or vacation) and how they’re accruing their leave. You can have them fill out a timesheet to help you track, monitor, and manage their leave efficiently.
  • If your employees are working on numerous projects or you bill clients by the hour, you need to know which employees are working on what project and how many hours are going towards each project. Having employees fill out a timesheet can help track the total working hours that go into the project to determine the progress and whether you need to make any changes.

Best Practices For Meal and Rest Break Attestation California

In 2021, the California Supreme Court issued significant rulings on Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC, which refined important issues related to meal periods and rest breaks compliance and attestations in California. 

Donohue v. AMN Services Case: No Rounding, Drop-Down Menu Usage

In the Donohue case, the employer rounded time punches to the nearest predefined increments and also used a timekeeping system that prompted employees to state the reason for non-compliant breaks. 

The Supreme Court ruled that records that show meal breaks incongruent with wage and hour regulations (for instance, too late, too short, or missed breaks) create a rebuttable presumption of legal break violations by the employer.

As per the precedent set by Brinker Restaurant Corporation v. Superior Court that the employer must provide rather than ensure employees take meal breaks, Donohue has the potential to shift the burden of proof, with severe implications for class litigation.

Therefore, employers planning to mitigate the risk of holding the burden of proof should consider several best practices for meal and break attestations:

  • Incorporate drop-down menus: Use a timekeeping system that prompts employees who clock in or out to indicate reasons for non-compliant meal breaks. The system should automatically trigger premium pay for any short, missed, or delayed periods due to the employer’s non-compliance.
  • Require written attestations on employee time cards for accuracy and compliance: You should also consider mandatory employee attestations for time entries to ensure accuracy and compliance.

In this case, employee time cards should include a statement with a signature line confirming that they have accurately recorded all work hours and have taken the required breaks. 

Employees must review and sign these time cards before submitting them for payroll processing.

How Timeero Can Simplify Meal and Rest Break Attestation in California?

The state’s labor laws mandate that employees receive specific meal and rest breaks during their shifts, which can create challenges and complexities for employers. 

Some key challenges include:

  • Failure to provide required meals and rest breaks can lead to potential legal actions and penalties.
  • Keeping accurate records can be time-consuming and prone to errors, especially for companies with many employees.
  • Scheduling challenges, where managers must create schedules accommodating employees’ breaks without disrupting the workflow.
  • Lack of robust timekeeping systems that can automate break tracking and simplify record-keeping.

Timeero automates the cumbersome processes associated with attestation collection, retention, reporting, and management across the organization. The time-tracking tool has achieved this in several ways:

No Time Rounding

In the Brinker Restaurant Corp. v Superior Court lawsuit, the court prohibited time rounding when tracking employee meal breaks.

Timeero has put all the necessary measures to ensure you comply with the rounding policy. You only need to go to the time rounding settings under Company Settings and uncheck the rounding options. This way, the information on employee timesheets on punches will match the time the employee spent on the meal break.  

timeero how to stop time rounding 
Timeero enables you to stop time rounding to adhere to the California meal policy.

Automated Prompts

In California, meal and rest breaks can be challenging to track. However, the California Break Sign-off Tool ensures employees always comply with the meal and rest breaks requirements.

When the California Break Policy setting is turned on, employees will be prompted to fill out and submit an attestation form before clocking out. This form acts as a way to confirm that employees have taken their breaks as required or have mutually agreed to waive them.

activating california break policy
Once the California Break Policy setting in Timeero is activated, users are required to complete an attestation form before clocking out

Accurate Attestation Reports

Daily sign off form on mobile preview
The Daily Sign-off form helps validate whether employees have taken the meal break or mutually agreed to waive them. 

Timeero puts attestation reporting at the employer’s fingertips.

On the app, employers can generate Daily Sign-Off Reports tailored for California businesses and verify employee compliance with break laws. The app will notify them when employees are not compliant so that they can take the necessary steps to minimize potential harm to the company in case of a legal dispute.  

With the Daily Sign-Off reports, employees can monitor employee attestations in real time, identify critical trends, flag employees who don’t meet break requirements, and take necessary action to resolve the issues.  

Employee attestations can be a hassle to manage and monitor. That’s why you need Timeero, the attestation tool that helps you comply with labor laws and avoid penalties.

Sign up for the free trial today to explore the full potential of attestation features within the app. 

Accurate and compliant meal and rest periods attestation is much easier with Timeero. 

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