California is one of several states that require employers to compensate its employees with “reporting time pay.” The applicable Wage Order in California, requires “that on each workday that an employee reports for work, as scheduled, but is not put to work or is furnished less than half of the employee's usual or scheduled day's work, the employee shall be paid for half the usual or scheduled day's work, but in no event for less than two (2) hours nor more than four (4) hours, at the employee's regular rate of pay, which shall not be less than the minimum wage.” (8 C.C.R. 11070; section 5.)
What is Prevented with Reporting Time Pay Requirements?
Reporting Time Pay laws are designed to compensate employees for lost anticipated wages and expenses incurred in reporting to work while simultaneously motivating employers to properly schedule employee shifts and give proper notice to employees.
For many “on-call” shifts, the employee is required to report to work by calling in one to two hours prior to their shift to determine whether they are needed to work that day. Failure to call in is treated the same as not showing up to a regular shift, and the employee is subject to discipline. When the time comes to report to work by calling in, the employee is oftentimes either placed on hold or told by the managers to call back later. This situation leaves the employee with little to no notice of whether they will receive work hours. Further, since the responsibility is on the employee to call in, if the employee is unable to get a hold of the manager at the store, they must physically show up to work. These “on-call” shifts allow employers to schedule the employees for full, or nearly full-time work, without the full time pay or providing them with benefits. It is difficult for employees to secure other work, spend time with family, or take care of personal needs with the uncertainty in scheduling.
Industrial Welfare Commission and Reporting Time Pay Exceptions
While the employer practice described above is common in the retail and restaurant industries, California's Industrial Welfare Commission lists multiple industries that have a duplicative wage order, such as the manufacturing industry, amusement and recreation industry, and transportation industry to name a few. The Industrial Welfare Commission even includes a “catch-all” for all industries that were not covered by the Industrial Welfare Commission, and not otherwise exempted by law.
However, there are exceptions to the Wage Order, to include:
- Reporting time pay is owed only when an employer ends the shift before it is halfway completed. If the employee has worked more than half the scheduled shift, then the employee is simply paid for whatever hours have been worked.
- Reporting time pay is not owed if an employee asks to leave early, such as when he or she goes home sick.
- Reporting time pay is not owed when there are threats to your business or property; when closing down is recommended by civil authorities; when public utilities fail, such as water, gas, electricity or sewer; or when work is interrupted by an act of God or other causes not within your control, such as an earthquake or tornado.
- Reporting time pay wages do not count toward overtime pay obligations since the wages are not paid for hours actually worked.
California Employment Laws
While California's reporting time pay laws have been in effect for several years, many questions sill arise as employers grapple with scheduling policies, overtime pay guidelines, and work procedures. Don't hesitate to contact Kingsley & Kingsley to speak with one of our experienced labor lawyers if you have questions about wage and hour requirements or any of California's existing employment laws.