Effective July 29, 2010, the City of Austin requires employers in the construction industry to provide at least ten minute rest breaks to their employees for every four hours worked.  The ordinance applies to all employers engaged in work associated with construction projects including alteration, demolition, building excavation, maintenance and renovation of structures or sites.

Employees working less than 3.5 hours or who spend more than half of the work time engaged in indoor administrative or secretarial activities are not required to be provided rest breaks. Rest breaks required under this ordinance must be completely free from all working activities and cannot be combined with an employee’s regular meal period.  Employers are also required to display postings describing the rest break requirements at every construction site in English and Spanish.  The City will prescribe the size, content and locations of signs required by the ordinance under separate rule.

The ordinance provides for a civil penalty of up to $500 for each violation (but only after the employer continues to violate the ordinance after being notified of the offense, in writing, by a City representative).  The ordinance also carries Class C misdemeanor criminal penalties for persons failing to provide required rest breaks and for failing to post required signage.  Strict liability applies to violations and each day that a violation occurs is a separate offense.  Enforcement will be handled on a complaint basis.  The law provides a City enforcement mechanism but does not expressly provide for a private right of action.

A draft of the ordinance can be accessed here.