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Day of rest in seven may become voluntary

March 31, 2015

Under Wisconsin law, employers must provide employees who work in factory, manufacturing or service establishments 24 hours of rest every seven consecutive days.  As the law does not specify that the rest must be given every 7 days, an employer may legally schedule work for 12 consecutive days within a 2 week period if the day of rest falls on the first and last days of the 2 week period.  Employers who fail to comply with this requirement are subject to forfeitures.  An employer may seek a waiver of the day of rest requirement through the Department of Workforce Development (Department).  If approved by the Department, the employer may require employees to work without a day of rest for a limited period of time.

On Friday, March 27, 2015, Wisconsin Assemblyman Mark Born introduced 2015 Assembly Bill 118, which would amend the law and allow employees to voluntarily waive the day of rest requirement in writing without approval from the Department.  Notably a similar measure was unsuccessfully proposed in 2014.  Proponents of the bill state that Wisconsin is in a minority of states requiring the day of rest and believe that repealing the requirement will make the state more competitive in attracting business.  Opponents of the bill argue that employees will feel pressured or coerced into waiving the requirement.

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