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C alifornia’s Industrial Welfare Commission dove into one of the most heated debates in labor law this week when it said companies can require workers to take time off without fear that those employees will lose their exempt status.

But the impact of the “statement of basis” — a document expressing the IWC’s view of the law — may do little to clarify just what companies should be doing in respect to complying with state overtime statutes. While some employment defense attorneys hailed Monday’s statement as a victory, others contend that the action by the IWC was nothing short of illegal.

On Monday, the panel said 4-1 that a May interpretation of the eight-hour work day statute by Miles Locker, the former head of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, was wrong to say that an employee’s exempt status is based on a monthly test.

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