Imagine that you are scheduled to work a standard eight-hour shift this coming Friday — you are supposed to get the office by 9:00 AM and leave at 5:00 PM.
However, when you arrive, your supervisor tells you that you are no longer needed and you are sent home without ever clocking in.
For obvious reasons, this type of scenario puts a tremendous burden on an employee — being scheduled requires workers to set aside their other plans and to travel to their job.
Fortunately, employment regulations offer important protections to workers who are scheduled or put on call.
Specifically, the California labor law 4-hour minimum pay requirement mandates that employees who are told that they have to work actually get paid for at least half of their scheduled shift, even if they are sent home early or denied the chance to work at all.
In this article, our Los Angeles wage and hour claims lawyers provide an overview of the frequently misunderstood 4-hour minimum shift in California and we explain what you should do if you believe your legal rights were violated under this statute.
What is the Law Regarding the Minimum 4-Hour Shift in California?
California has a ‘Reporting Time Pay’ law on the books (IWC Orders 1-16, Section 5).
As explained by the California Department of Industrial Relations, the reporting time pay law — also sometimes referred to as the four-hour minimum shift law — guarantees at least partial compensation for employees who report to work but are unexpectedly denied their full hours because of scheduling issues or lack of proper notice.
What exactly does the law require? It mandates that employees must be paid for at least half their shift, if they are told, without adequate notice, that they are not needed or if they are sent home from their job early.
This law is often referred to as the four-hour minimum shift rule because most full-time shifts in California are eight hours long.
If an employee is scheduled for less than eight hours, then they are entitled to receive half of their daily wages, even if they are sent home early or not permitted to work.
You may be wondering: What are the minimum hours to work in a day in California? Legally speaking, there is not a minimum number of hours.
The four-hour minimum shift rule does not mean that employers are required to schedule workers for at least four shifts.
This is a common misconception: there are no minimum hours for part-time in California or minimum hours for full-time.
What are the Exceptions to California’s Minimum Shift Regulations?
It should be noted that there are some limited exceptions to California’s four-hour minimum shift law.
As a general matter, if there is an outside factor that prevents an employer from operating — widespread public utility outages, an earthquake, a major law enforcement operation, etc — they will be excused from California’s minimum shift requirement.
That being said, if an employee is sent home early for an internal conflict or for a disciplinary issue, they must still be paid for at least half of their scheduled shift.
Employers cannot use alleged employee misconduct as an excuse not to pay them. The minimum shift law still applies.
Improperly Denied 4-Hour Minimum Shift Pay? Get Legal Help Immediately.
The key thing that you need to remember about 4-hour minimum pay in California is that hourly employees must be paid for at least half of the amount of time that they were scheduled to work.
This is true if their supervisor canceled their shift at the last minute without adequate notice or if they were sent home early at the company’s discretion.
If you were not paid the proper amount in this situation, your rights were violated.
Employers in California must comply with all applicable local, state, and federal wage and hour requirements.
If your employment rights were violated for any reason — whether you were denied minimum shift pay or you were asked to work more than the maximum number of days an employee can work in a row — you should be ready to consult with an experienced Los Angeles wage and hour law attorney.
Get Help From Our Los Angeles, CA Wage and Hour Attorneys Today
At Workplace Rights Law Group LLP, our California employment law attorneys have extensive experience handling the full range of wage and hour claims, including minimum shift cases.
If you believe that you or your loved one were unlawfully denied minimum shift pay, we are available to help.
To arrange a free review of your case, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team today.
With offices in Riverside and Glendale, we handle wage and hour claims in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, including in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Orange County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County.