Employment Law Update (New Paid Leave Requirements; Meal Period Rules; Company Vehicles)

By Roger M. Mason, Esq. & Caitlin E. Kaufman, Esq.

New Paid Leave Requirements for Organ and Bone Marrow Donors

Effective January 1, 2011, California employers with 15 or more employees must now provide the following paid leaves to employees who choose to donate organs or bone marrow:

  • Organ donors — must be provided a 30-day (workdays) leave of absence in any one-year period
  • Bone marrow donors - must be provided a leave of absence up to five workdays in any one-year period

The statute says that such leave does not run concurrently with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, state law cannot override federal law. Therefore, leave for the purpose of donating bone marrow or an organ may run concurrently with FMLA if the employer is a covered employer and the employee is eligible for FMLA.

New Meal Period Rules for Employees of Contractors Covered By Collective Bargaining Agreements

Effective January 1, 2011, Labor Code Section 512 will be modified to include an exemption from its meal period requirements for construction workers, commercial drivers, certain security officers and employees of electrical and gas corporations or local publically owned electric utilities if they are covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that contains provisions for meal periods and provides for final and binding arbitration of disputes over these provisions.

Providing Company Vehicles for Commuting Could Increase Your Risk of Worker’s Compensation Claims

Under the theory of respondeat superior, employers are vicariously liable for tortious acts committed by employees during the course and scope of their employment. However, under the “going and coming” rule, employers are generally exempt from liability for tortious acts committed by employees while on their way to and from work because employees are said to be outside of the course and scope of employment during their daily commute. However, an exception arises and the employer or its insurance carrier is liable for injuries incurred by an employee while he or she is going to or returning from work if the employer agrees, either expressly or by implication, that the employment relationship shall continue during the period of “going and coming.”

Such an agreement may be inferred if:

  1. The employer furnishes the employee with transportation to and/or from work or reimburses him for mileage expenses.
  2. The employer compensates the employee for the time consumed in traveling to and/or from work; or
  3. The employee is given a travel allowance.

Thus, if an employee is injured while commuting to and/or from work in a company vehicle, you may be liable and should submit the claim to your worker’s compensation insurance carrier.


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