The state of California continues to place obligations for preventing employee heat stroke onto employers. In 2015, California heat stroke law clarified that cooldown periods or “recovery periods” must be paid, by state law.
In a series of regulations beginning in 2013 under the CAL-OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Regulations, the state has required all employers with outdoor places of employment to implement a heat stress and heat stroke prevention program that includes providing workers with five-minute cooldown rest breaks in the shade, each hour. Subsequently, the state clarified that employees could not be required to do any form of work during these five-minute breaks. CAL-OSHA says these breaks must be paid, under both federal and state minimum wage laws.
Under this law, every California employer with an outdoor place of employment must adopt a heat stroke and heat illness prevention policy that includes additional procedures when temperatures soar above 95 degrees. Additional regulations apply to select industries: agriculture, construction, oil and gas extraction, landscaping, and transportation or delivery of agricultural products, construction materials, or other heavy materials. The paid cooldown or recovery period applies to California employers in all industries.