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Issue #10 - June 25 2013


Welcome to the tenth issue of the newsletter!

In today's main essay my new expert panelist Jackie Wells Smith, consultant with a variety of businesses on employee handbooks and recruiting for more than 20 years, tells us about how recent changes to laws could put you in violation with your employee break policies.

Also in today's issue...

The Check it Out! section gives information on employee handbooks and a special free evaluation copy.

My Quick Tip for today is a quick little idea for keeping your company name fresh on your customers' minds.

I hope you enjoy this issue of


"Life is like a game of tennis; the player who serves well seldom loses."
~  Anonymous

Even With A Written Policy You May Be In Violation Of Employee Break Laws In Your State!

By Jackie Wells Smith

Has Your State Made Changes That You Aren't Aware Of?

A court in least one state recently "clarified" their regulations on rest periods in such a way that a properly written policy that follows the law is invalid, exposing even companies in compliance with state law to legal action - over a ten-minute break!

Many states have no specific requirements that rest periods be given at all; others are quite specific in the number and length of the rest period.

For example, Georgia and Indiana are states that require no specific rest period.

Some states, such as Colorado, require that employees taking rest periods be paid for all or a portion thereof.

Others have specific guidance on how to handle classes of employees, or age restrictions, and even job duties.

A Case in Point for California Employers

California, on the other hand, has established quite stringent standards. A California Court of Appeal ruled that an employer’s rest period policy must follow the language of the applicable Wage Orders.

Even if employees receive their rest periods in accordance with the law a misworded policy, or having no written policy, may provide a basis for a class action lawsuit. The decision is now being used to exploit nuances between written policy language and the explicit Wage Order language.

California companies must provide an employee with:

  • a 10-minute rest period for shifts from three and one-half to six hours in length
  • a 20-minute rest period for shifts of more than six hours up to 10 hours
  • a 30-minute rest period for shifts of more than 10 hours up to 14 hours

The previous standard under which employees were provided only one 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked was held invalid because it should have provided for a second rest period after six hours.

Employment Laws Can Change without Notice

State wage and hour laws relating to rest breaks don’t change often, if they exist at all.

But more and more states are enacting these types of requirements for the first time and courts make rulings that invalidate policies that were once within the law.


Penalties for violations of rest period regulations can rise quite high, as they are typically levied for each incident per employee.

In California, a case can be certified as a class action, meaning large legal fees for defense as well as penalties and back payment of wages should the employer lose the case.

It’s relatively easy to stay in compliance

  • Make certain you are using an employee handbook from a reliable source
  • Check the handbook you are using to make certain policies, such as the rest period, are up-to-date and that they protect your company
  • Stay aware of employment news affecting your class(es) of employees and update your handbook - or purchase a system that comes with regular updates
Many companies regard an employee handbook as a low-priority item. Don’t make that costly mistake.

Jackie Wells Smith is the editor and co-publisher of Your Employee Handbook and is frequently cited in articles and interviews. She has been a human resources director for a large retail chain and various manufacturing and construction companies, and has consulted with a variety of businesses on employee handbooks and recruiting for more than 20 years. She can be reached through

Check It Out!

Note from Diane: Although the article above cites several California examples you've got to make certain that you are compliant to your state's laws so please do check this out.

Protect Your Company!

Although you can use an attorney to write your handbooks from scratch, YourEmployeeHandbook offers a pre-written, attorney-reviewed employee handbook that is written especially for contractors, builders, plumbers, electricians, and other skilled trades and has been tested in the field for more than ten years.

The system includes dozens of ready-to-use policies written and edited for clarity and with the understanding that quality, skilled craftsmen are valuable assets to any company.

Many companies have found that the most economical way to handle their employee handbooks is to purchase YourEmployeeHandbook and have their attorney perform a review to add purely local regulations.

That's a lot less expensive than having him/her write it from scratch!

The policies in YourEmployee Handbook for Contractors are written to provide "best practices" in human resources management for every state - and will meet or exceed requirements for all states, including rest period policies.

Right now you can view and download a free evaluation copy of Your Employee Handbook for Contractors.

From management to hourly workers, the employees in this industry are self-directed and are required to make more decisions than employees in other industries.

The Contractor version was written to give guidelines that emphasize safety and adherance to standards for productivity on the jobsite.

The policies include the usual hiring, termination, performance evaluations and payroll, disciplinary procedures and general company standards, as well as contractor-specific policies, such as licenses and certifications, welding, field assignment pay, jobsite safety and behavior, fall protection, and safety and protective equipment policies.

Immediately upon completion of your purchase of YourEmployeeHandbook, you can download it instantly, edit the Microsoft Word file to fit your company using the instructions provided, and then print and distribute it to your employees.

Jump on it now while it's fresh in your mind. Once you have the handbook on your computer then you can modify at your leisure. Maybe work on it over a few days to see what comes up in the course of business that needs to be included.

Quick Tip

Remember when your mom (or whoever made your school lunch) would write a nice little note and put it in your lunch bag for you. Remember how happy it made you (as long as your school chums didn't see it)?

Why not do that for your customer? No lunch bag required!

Write a nice note to your customer on the back of your business card (or more than one note on more than one business card) and hide it/them in little places where you customer will find it/them over time.

A super-quick, inexpensive way to bring your company name to the forefront of your customer's mind and a smile to their face.

Chances are they're going to tell someone because whatever you write will have brought a smile to their day.

As inexpensive as business cards can be this can be a great way to get your customers to talk about you to their friends and family and to bring in more business.

I use VistaPrint every time I need business cards and other little goodies. You can use their designs or you can upload your own including your logo.

You can put whatever text you'd like on your cards and best of all - they're inexpensive enough, as low as $3.99(!), that you can order again and again without breaking the bank.

You can hand out as many of your business cards as you'd like because it's so easy to get more - which also makes it easy to change designs as much as you'd like! ;)

Business Cards, Advertisement Postcards, Presentation Folders, Magnets, Brochures, and so much more!

Now with work coming back you need to get your name out there. No better time than the present!

Updated Forms and Laws

Check out this website I've been partnered with for several years now for downloadable construction forms for all states:
United States Legal Forms

TRY THIS FOR FREE! Use and sign forms on your smartphones/tablets/mobile devices, add pictures, email the filled in forms, print the filled in forms, save the filled in forms, change the filled in forms, there's so much you can do right there on your smartphones and tablets:
Use forms on your smartphones and tablets

I'll probably continue to mention this in every issue. OSHA is cracking down. Please make sure you're up-to-date on their requirements. Here's more information: 10 Hour Construction Industry Outreach

Look Who's Talking!
Send me your comments and see your name in lights! ;)

"I enjoy your newsletters thank you and keep up the good work Diane."

~ Jerry - Solid Ground

"Hi Diane,
I've found your newsletter to be one of the few I open and read! Very informative!"

Gary Smith

What Did You Think?

If you haven't yet, please let me know your thoughts on the main essay by posting your comments here.

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Disclaimer: only recommends products that we've either personally checked out ourselves, or that come from people we know and trust. For doing so, we may receive a commission.

Nothing in this e-mail should be considered personalized advice, legal or otherwise. Although our employees may answer your general customer service questions, they are not licensed under laws to address your particular legal situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized advice.

Monk and DBug, LLC
Diane Dennis
555 NW Fairhaven Drive
Oak Harbor, WA 98277

For specific legal advice please visit:

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