California Labor Law Regarding Minimum Work Hours Per Day

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Nonexempt employees in California are entitled to a minimum hourly pay, or a "reporting time pay," simply for reporting to work. Reporting pay rules differ depending on how many shifts the employee has worked in a day and the original length of the shift. California employers don't have to adhere to this rule in an emergency or disciplinary situation.

Reporting Time Pay

If an employer sends a nonexempt employee home early due to lack of work, the employee is entitled to receive pay for half of his normal shift hours. When this occurs, the maximum amount of reporting hours he can be paid is four and the minimum is two.

For example, say that an employer sends home an employee after working one hour of his normal eight-hour shift. Even though the employee only worked one hour, he must be paid for four hours. If the employee's shift was only supposed to be six hours, he would receive three hours of pay.

Reporting Pay for Second Shifts

Employers also must pay for reporting time if they call back an employee for a second shift. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, an employee called back is entitled to a minimum of two hours pay whether or not he actually worked two hours. For example, if an employee works his regular six hour shift and is called back later for one more hour of work, he must receive eight hours of pay rather than seven.

Exceptions for Employers

California allows some exceptions to the reporting time rule. Employers don't have to pay for reporting time in a disaster or emergency scenario. For example, reporting time doesn't apply if there are safety threats to employees, if public utilities fail or if a natural disaster occurs. Employers aren't subject to reporting pay if they send an employee home for disciplinary reasons. That means an employer isn't liable for reporting pay if an employee is unfit to work, arrived late, is fired or is sent home for breaking workplace rules.

Overtime Calculations

California's eight-hour overtime rule can complicate reporting pay calculations. Normally, employees are entitled to time-and-a-half for work in excess of eight hours in one day. However, reporting pay hours doesn't count towards the eight hour total. For example, say that an employee worked a seven hour shift and was called back later to work an extra hour. Because the second shift was less than two hours, the employee is entitled to eight hours of pay for actual hours worked and an extra hour of reporting pay. However, the hour of reporting pay may be paid at the employee's regular rate.

Read More: About California Overtime Law

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