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Explaining California’s 4 Hour Minimum Shift Law

December 25, 2023 Legal Team

California’s 4-hour minimum shift law is designed to ensure fair treatment and compensation for employees, particularly those who may be scheduled for shorter shifts. 

Explaining California's 4 Hour Minimum Shift Law

California’s 4-Hour Minimum Pay Rule

According to California’s 4-hour minimum pay rule, also known as the reporting time pay law, if an employee is scheduled to work a shift and reports to work as scheduled, they are entitled to receive compensation for at least half of their scheduled shift or for two hours, whichever is greater. This means that even if the employee is sent home early or the work is completed before the end of the scheduled shift, they are still entitled to a minimum amount of pay. For example, if a worker is scheduled for a six-hour shift and is sent home early or denied work, the employer is required to pay the worker their regular wages for a minimum of three hours. Employers cannot pay employees for less than two hours or more than four hours at the employee’s regular pay rate under this law.

Reporting to work constitutes:

  • Being present at your workplace at the start of your scheduled shift.
  • Logging into a computer for remote work.
  • Arriving at a client’s job site as per your shift requirements.
  • Initiating a trucking route.
  • Calling in to work to see if you are scheduled as required by your employer. 

As a result, if you receive insufficient notice that your services are not required or if you are sent home early, this law ensures a degree of financial stability in such situations. Employers cannot cite insufficient work performance or alleged misconduct as reasons to deny reporting time pay to employees.

Exceptions to California’s 4 Hour Minimum Shift Law

Certain factors beyond an employer’s control may exempt them from the minimum compensation requirement. For example:

  • Earthquakes
  • Power outages
  • Other utility outages
  • Forest fires
  • Storms
  • Major law enforcement situations

If unforeseeable events prevent an employer from operating the business, they are not required to provide the 4-hour minimum shift pay. The same goes if an employee voluntarily decides to leave work early, without being instructed by the employer to do so.

What Can I Do if My Employer Doesn’t Pay Me My Reporting Time Pay?

If your employer fails to pay you the required reporting time pay, you have two primary avenues to pursue recourse: filing a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), commonly known as the Labor Commissioner’s Office, or initiating a lawsuit against your employer in court. Here’s an overview of both options:

Filing a Wage Claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office

  • Process: You can initiate a wage claim online after creating a Community Account or logging in. Then click the “New Wage Claim” button. This form generally requires details about your employer, employment, the hours worked, and the unpaid reporting time pay.
  • Investigation: The Labor Commissioner’s Office will review your claim and investigate the matter. This may involve contacting your employer for information and gathering evidence from both parties.
  • Resolution: If the investigation supports your claim, a judgment may be issued in your favor. This judgment can include the unpaid reporting time pay and potentially additional penalties.
  • Enforcement: The Labor Commissioner’s Office can enforce its judgments, and if necessary take legal action to collect the awarded amount on your behalf.

Filing a wage claim is generally a more informal and expedited process compared to a lawsuit. However, the remedies may be limited to the specific violations addressed in your claim.

Filing a Lawsuit in Court

Filing a lawsuit involves initiating legal proceedings against your employer. 

  • Hire an Attorney: It is highly advisable to consult a Los Angeles Employment Law Attorney who can assess the strength of your case, help you build your claim, guide you through the process, and represent you in court.
  • Documenting the Case: Your attorney will help gather evidence, such as records of your work hours, communications with your employer, and any other relevant information.
  • Legal Proceedings: The lawsuit must proceed through the court system, including court filings, discovery, and potentially settlement negotiations. If a resolution is not reached, the case may go to trial.
  • Remedies: If successful, a court judgment can include the unpaid reporting time pay, additional damages, and legal fees.

Filing a lawsuit provides a more comprehensive legal remedy, but it can be a lengthier and more formal process compared to a wage claim. 

FAQs on California’s 4-Hour Minimum Shift Law 

Q: Can Employers Pay Less Than Two Hours of Reporting Time Pay?

A: No, employers cannot pay less than two hours of reporting time pay. The law sets a minimum threshold to ensure employees receive a reasonable level of compensation when reporting to work.

Q: What Should I Do if I’m Denied Reporting Time Pay Unfairly?

A: Document the details of the situation, communicate with your employer about the issue, and consult an employment attorney for guidance on the best course of action.

Q: Can Employers Use Work Performance as an Excuse to Deny Reporting Time Pay?

A: No, employers cannot use insufficient work performance or alleged misconduct as a reason to deny reporting time pay. 

Q: Can I Seek Legal Assistance if My Employer Retaliates for Seeking Reporting Time Pay?

A: Yes, if you experience retaliation for asserting your rights, you may seek legal assistance. Document any adverse actions and speak to a lawyer about your legal options.

Q: What Is The Official Notice For California’s Minimum Wage In 2023?

A: The minimum wage under California law is $15.50 an hour as of January 1, 2023 and will increase to $16.00 on January 1, 2024. 

Q: Is There A 4-Hour Minimum Shift In California?

A: It is important to note that there is no explicit legal mandate for a minimum shift duration or minimum hours for part-time or full-time employees in the state. 

Q: How Many Hours Between Shifts Is Legal?

A: In California, there is no specific law that dictates a minimum number of hours between shifts. However, certain industries, such as healthcare and transportation, may have specific regulations regarding rest periods between shifts to ensure employee safety and well-being. Additionally, employers are required to pay overtime rates for all hours worked beyond eight hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a workweek and are generally required to comply with regulations related to rest breaks and meal periods.