California’s 4-Hour Minimum Shift Law

Posted by Sessions & Kimball |

If you’re an employee in California, it’s important to know your rights regarding shift lengths. The state enforces a “4-hour minimum shift law,” aiming to protect workers from disruption and inconvenience that arise from being scheduled for very short shifts. Understanding this regulation can help ensure you are fairly compensated for your time and availability when reporting to work.

Understanding the Law – Four-Hour Reporting Pay Rule in California

The state of California has established a regulation known as the four-hour minimum pay rule, or reporting time pay law, to ensure employees receive fair compensation when they report for a scheduled shift.

According to this law, if an employee arrives at work as scheduled, they must be paid for at least half of their scheduled shift, with a minimum of two hours and a maximum of four hours of pay at their regular rate, regardless of whether they are sent home early or the work is completed prematurely.

(B) Each workday that an employee is required to report to the work site and does report, but is not put to work or is furnished less than half of his/her usual or scheduled day’s work, the employer shall pay him/her 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.

Exceptions to California’s Four-Hour Minimum Shift Law

Certain situations beyond an employer’s control may exempt them from the minimum compensation requirement. Examples include:

  • Natural disasters: Events such as earthquakes and forest fires.
  • Utility failures: Power outages and other utility disruptions.
  • Severe weather: Occurrences like storms.
  • Public safety situations: Major law enforcement incidents.

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.

If such unforeseen circumstances prevent the employer from operating the business, they are not obligated to provide the four-hour minimum shift pay. The same rule applies if an employee voluntarily chooses to leave work early without being instructed by the employer.

What To Do If Your Employer Fails To Pay Reporting Time Pay

If you have not received your rightful reporting time pay, there are two main actions you can take to seek recovery:

Submitting a Wage Claim to the Labor Commissioner’s Office

Begin by filing a wage claim online through the Labor Commissioner’s Office. You will need to create a Community Account or log into an existing one, and then click the “New Wage Claim” button. The form typically requires information about your employer, your employment details, the hours you worked, and the unpaid reporting time pay.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office will investigate the claim by reviewing your submission and potentially contacting your employer for further information. They will collect evidence from both parties.

If the findings support your claim, the office may issue a judgment in your favor.

Initiating a Lawsuit in Court

Filing a lawsuit involves formally initiating legal proceedings against your employer. It is highly recommended to consult with an Orange County wage violation lawyer who can evaluate the merits of your case, assist in building your claim, and represent you in court.

Your attorney will help in gathering all necessary evidence, including your work hour records, communications with your employer, and other pertinent information. The lawsuit will progress through the court system, involving steps such as court filings, discovery, and potential settlement negotiations. If a settlement is not achieved, the case may go to trial.

A successful court judgment could include the owed reporting time pay, additional damages, and reimbursement of legal fees. While lawsuits offer a more comprehensive legal remedy, the process is generally longer and more formal than submitting a wage claim.

By understanding and exercising these options, you can ensure that your rights are protected and seek the compensation you deserve. If you have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to contact our Orange County employment attorneys to schedule a free consultation.