Attorney Jean-Claude Lapuyade

Are salespeople entitled to rest periods?

Working as a salesperson isn’t always an easy job. When you work on commission, you often have to hustle to keep commissions coming in for a steady salary. You may have sales calls booked up back to back or find a steady stream of potential customers you need to follow up with. Yet just like any other California employee, as a salesperson you should receive breaks – paid rest periods based on the number of hours you work.

When employees should receive breaks

Salespeople, as with all other California employees, should receive a 10-minute break for every four hours of work. For an eight-hour workday, they should receive those 20 minutes of paid breaks, plus a 30-minute unpaid lunch period. If you end up working a 10-hour day or more, you can receive a second 30-minute unpaid lunch period. Or you can waive that in order to end your shift earlier.

How employers pay commission employees for breaks

In 2017, a California appellate court ruled that employees who work on commission should be paid separately for required rest periods. The ruling came in a case where a sales associate for Stoneledge Furniture sued because the company’s commission structure and how, at times, required that break pay came out of future commissions. The court ruled that employees who work on commission in California should be compensated in the same way that those who work on a piece-rate (being paid for the amount of units or pieces an employee creates): receiving paid rest time that doesn’t impact a commission or a piece rate.

Employment law matters are complicated in California. If you work on commission and aren’t sure how your employer pays for required rest time, you should inquire about that. If you are not being paid properly for mandatory breaks, you may need to consult an employment law attorney about helping resolve that matter.