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What are the rules for “reporting time pay” in California?

Any Time an Employee is Required to Show Up to Work Should Be Considered Paid Time

Under California Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Orders, employers must pay employees for unworked (but regularly scheduled) time, also known as reporting time. Simply put, any time an employee is required to show up to work should be considered paid time, even if he is not given a sufficient amount of work to cover all hours.

Under the rules of reporting-time pay in California, if an employee is required to report to work, but performs less than half of his or her usual work hours, the employee must be paid for at least half of the scheduled day’s work at his or her normal pay rate. In addition, employees cannot be paid for less than two hours on a day of reporting, regardless of the time worked.

In this article, our California wage and hour lawyers answer the following questions (and more):

What are the rules for “reporting time pay” in California?
 
What is California reporting time pay or show up pay?
 
What is in the California Wage Orders on reporting time pay?
 
What if I have to call in to work by telephone to see if I have to work that day? 
 
Am I entitle to be paid if I have to call into work to see if I actually work that day?
 
What if I have to log on to the computer or check by my cell phone to see if I have to work... Am I entitled to reporting time pay? 
 
Are there exceptions to California reporting time laws?
 

What is California reporting time pay or show up pay?

Under California law, if you are require to report for work and you don't actually work, but are no provided at least half of your usual hours, then you are owed reporting time pay. You must be paid the greater of half of your usual scheduled day (up to 4 hours) or 2 hours at your regular rate of pay. 

What is in the California Wage Orders on reporting time pay? (It's all in the California Wage Orders)

Reporting Time Pay.  Section 5 of each of the Orders provides:
 
(A)   Each workday an employee is required to report for work and does report, but is not put to work or is furnished less than half said 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.
 
(B)   If an employee is required to report for work a second time on any one workday and is furnished less than two (2) hours of work on the second reporting, said employee shall be paid for two (2) hours at the employee’s regular rate of pay, which shall not be less than the minimum wage.
 
(C)   The foregoing reporting time pay provisions are not applicable when: (1)   Operations cannot commence or continue due to threats to employees or property; or when recommended by civil authorities; or (2)   Public utilities fail to supply electricity, water, or gas, or there is a failure in the public           utilities, or sewer system; or (3)   The interruption of work is caused by an Act of God or other cause not within the employer’s control (D)   This section shall not apply to an employee on paid standby who is called to perform assigned work at a time other than the employee’s scheduled reporting time.

 

Telephonic report:  What if I have to call in to work by telephone to see if I have to work that day? 

One of the questions I get asked is, Am I entitle to be paid if I have to call into work to see if I actually work that day?

This is called telephonic reporting. That is, employers will make employees call in to work and see if they work a shift that day. If your employer makes you do this and you are not required to work, then you are owed California reporting time pay for having to call in to work. Ward v. Tilly's, Inc. (2019) 31 Cal.App.5th 1167, 1178. 

Meaning, you are owed two to four's pay, every time that this happens. 

What if I have to log on to the computer or check by my cell phone to see if I have to work... Am I entitled to reporting time pay? 

Yes. As the court in the Tilly's case stated: 

The reporting time pay requirement operates as follows. If an employer directs employees to present themselves for work by physically appearing at the workplace at the shift's start, then the reporting time requirement is triggered by the employee's appearance at the jobsite. But if the employer directs employees to present themselves for work by logging on to a computer remotely, or by appearing at a client's jobsite, or by setting out on a trucking route, then the employee “reports for work” by doing those things. And if, as plaintiff alleges in this case, the employer directs employees to present themselves for work by telephoning the store two hours prior to the start of a shift, then the reporting time requirement is triggered by the telephonic contact.
Ward v. Tilly's, Inc. (2019) 31 Cal.App.5th 1167, 1185.

 

Are there exceptions to California reporting time laws?

However, employers are not required to compensate employees for reporting time under the following exceptions:

  • If work operations are interrupted by threats to employees or property.
  • If civil authorities recommend that work be suspended.
  • If public utility services are interrupted, shutting off electricity, water, gas, or sewer service in the workplace.
  • When work is interrupted due to an act of God, such an earthquake or other natural disasters.
  • If the employee has reported but is not fit to work.
  • If the employee reported to work later than his scheduled time and was fired or sent home as a disciplinary action.
  • If the employee is compensated on paid standby status.
  • If the employee’s regularly scheduled shift is less than two hours.

Wage Theft Is More Common Than Most Employees Realize

If you don’t know your rights, it is easy for an employer to take advantage of you. In our free guide, The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide To Getting Your Hard-Earned Wages Back, we explain how employers can nickel and dime employees out of their paychecks, resulting in thousands of dollars worth of lost compensation. Download your copy today to get the facts on California wage violations.

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