The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that California’s reporting time pay requirements extend to employees scheduled for “call-in” shifts even if they aren’t required to physically report to work. Workers at a retail store were required to call their manager 30 to 60 minutes before a scheduled shift to see if the store actually needed them to physically report to work. Employees received no compensation if the manager told them not to come in. One worker filed a lawsuit, claiming the employer had failed to pay reporting time pay for these “call-in” shifts. The employer argued that requiring workers to call in at an appointed time before a scheduled shift didn’t count as “reporting for work” under California’s Wage Orders 1-16, Section 5(C).
While the appeal was pending, a California court of appeal issued a decision in a similar case concluding “an employee need not necessarily physically appear at the workplace to ‘report for work.’” The state appeals court reasoned that “on-call” shifts “burden employees, who cannot take other jobs, go to school, or make social plans during on-call shifts—but who nonetheless receive no compensation . . . unless they ultimately are called in to work. This is precisely the kind of abuse that reporting time pay was designed to discourage.” The Ninth Circuit determined it would follow the California state court’s lead to require reporting time pay for “call-in” shifts (Herrera v. Zumiez, Inc., 9th Cir, March 2020).
Tips: As explained by the Labor Commissioner, the amount of reporting time pay is generally half of the wages the employee would have earned that day, although the minimum amount is two hours of pay and the maximum is four hours of pay. Minimize canceled or shortened shifts through adequate scheduling practices and provide employees with proper notice. Have procedures in place for providing proper reporting time pay when necessary. See the “reporting-time pay” section of Vigilant’s Legal Guide, Compensation for On-Call Time and contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney with questions.