California Graveyard Shift Pay Laws

By Patrick Gleeson, Ph. D.,

California does not have any statutes that specify extra pay for graveyard shifts, work schedules that typically begin at midnight and end at 8 am. The governing statute, therefore, is the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

FLSA and Graveyard Shifts

According to The U.S. Department of Labor, an employee or the employee's representative may come to an agreement that specifies some additional pay increment for night shift or graveyard shift employment, but FLSA does not require employers to pay an increased amount.

Extended Shifts vs. Split Shifts

In 2011, the California Court of Appeal also ruled against plaintiffs who argued that if an employee worked a shift that extended over two working days, she was entitled to extra pay. The case (Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. v. Superior Court (Holland), No. B227950 Cal. Ct. App. July 7, 2011) hinged on another California rules that specifies extra pay for employees working split shifts -- for example, two shorter shifts with a short rest period between the two. Under California law, employers must pay an employee one extra hour for a split shift.

The requirement that the employer pay extra even when the total hours worked over a 24-hour day may be no more than the usual eight hours prompted Security Services employees to sue for extra pay on the grounds that their night shift extended over two consecutive days -- that is, that it began some time before midnight on the first day and ended eight hours later on the following day.

The court rejected this argument and held that “employees working uninterrupted overnight shifts on consecutive days do not work a split shift and are not entitled to split-shift pay under the wage order.”

About the Author

Patrick Gleeson received a doctorate in 18th century English literature at the University of Washington. He served as a professor of English at the University of Victoria and was head of freshman English at San Francisco State University. Gleeson is the director of technical publications for McClarie Group and manages an investment fund. He is a Registered Investment Advisor.

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