Magazine article Drug Topics

New California Work Rules Cover Pharmacists

Magazine article Drug Topics

New California Work Rules Cover Pharmacists

Article excerpt

California governor Gray Davis signed into law last month legislation that assures pharmacists of overtime pay, rest breaks, and lunch periods under the state's regulations governing working conditions and hours and wages.

The new law, SB 651, specifically includes pharmacists in the state Industrial Welfare Commission's (IWC) regulations governing the rest breaks, lunch, maximum work hours, and overtime pay for employees in particular industries. Employers can no longer claim that pharmacists are exempt because they are classified as professionals.

The Industrial Welfare Commission's rules, known as work orders, set an eight-hour workday for pharmacists. If a pharmacist works 10 hours, eight hours must be paid at the regular rate, and two hours must be paid at time-and-a-half. If the workday stretches to 12 hours, a maximum of two hours is to be paid at double time. However, pharmacists can negotiate a flexible workweek as an alternative to the eight-hour workday requirement.

"What individual pharmacists do or do not do regarding taking breaks and lunch periods will vary, but the law is now in their favor," said Carlo Michelotti, CEO, California Pharmacists Association. "Overtime payment for pharmacists is no longer an issue. It is the law. The legislation was cosponsored by the CPhA, the United Food & Commercial Workers union, and the California Retailers Association.

"No opposition was encountered from the chain interests as we developed the coalition to make this into a law that would primarily benefit patients by helping the pharmacists work in humane conditions, thus reducing the potential for dispensing errors," said Michelotti. …

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