California Labor Laws on Split Shift & Overtime

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Many workers have schedules that don’t fit the traditional 9-to-5 workday or 40-hour workweek. Some employees work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Other employees have work schedules that include split shifts, which are working periods of paid time divided by non-working periods of unpaid time in the same workday. California labor laws for overtime compensate non-exempt employees for working certain schedules that don’t quite fit the norm of typical business hours.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

The Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) divides employees into two pay categories – exempt and non-exempt. Broadly speaking, hourly employees are classified as non-exempt, and salaried employees are classified as exempt. The “exempt” designation describes workers who are exempt from receiving the minimum wage and overtime pay; in other words, exempt employees do not receive additional wages for working overtime hours.

Non-exempt employees, on the other hand, are entitled not only to receive the minimum wage for their work but also overtime pay for each hour they work in excess of 40 hours in the same workweek. And if a non-exempt employee works a split shift, she is also entitled to receive a split-shift premium.

California Non-Exempt Employee Hours

Non-exempt employees in California are workers who are 18 years of age or older, or they are minor employees 16 or 17 years of age who are not legally required to attend school and not legally prohibited from performing the work that their job requires. California law prohibits employers from allowing non-exempt employees to work more than eight hours each workday or more than 40 hours each workweek without receiving overtime pay.

Overtime CA Pay Rates

Non-exempt employees are eligible to receive overtime pay at the rate of 1*½ times* an employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours that exceed eight hours of each day or 40 hours of work each week. The employer must double an employee’s regular pay rate for all hours that exceed 12 hours in a workday as well as for all hours that exceed eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday in a workweek.

Split Shift in California

An example of an employee who works split shifts is a restaurant waiter. For example, a waiter may work from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. during the lunch shift, clock out and return to the restaurant after several hours to work from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. during the dinner shift. These two separate shifts on the same workday, separated by a span of time, is called a split shift.

California law stipulates that the time period between the two shifts must be longer than a meal period or a rest break. Split shift premiums do not impact or affect overtime pay.

Read More: California Graveyard Shift Pay Laws

Split Shift California Premium

California employees who work split shifts are entitled to a premium, which is equal to one hour of pay at the state minimum wage rate or the local minimum wage. As of 2019, California’s minimum wage hourly rate for companies that have 25 employees or less is $11, and the hourly rate for companies that have 26 or more employees is $12.

Split shifts must be worked for the benefit of the employer; for example, workers cannot voluntarily work a split shift and receive the premium for it. Employers are required to itemize the split-shift premium on an employer’s pay stub as a separate entry apart from regular wages and label it “Split Shift Premium.”