California Four-Hour Minimum Shift Law (2023)

Imagine you get to work knowing you are to work from 9 to 5. But when you get to work, your boss informs you that you can only work for two hours or there is no work for that day. This scenario can put a huge burden on you. Reporting to work to be told that you cannot work your full shift or work at all can strain your finances. You may also have given up other important plans because you knew you had work. Fortunately, as has been the case over the past years, in 2023, California employers are still required to pay workers their regular wages for at least one-half of their shift if they come in for work only for them to be told to go back home early or denied the chance to work at all. This is called the Reporting Time Pay law or the four-hour minimum shift law. Below, we share some crucial information you need to know about this law. 

What is the Four-Hour Minimum Shift Law?

The Reporting Time Pay law or the four-hour minimum shift law is a law that is misunderstood by many. The term “four-hour minimum shift” confuses many employees, who assume their employers must pay them for at least four hours if they do not work at least four workers of their shift. So, what exactly does this law require of employers? The four-hour minimum shift law requires California employers to pay workers at least half their shift if they are told, without enough notice, there is no work or are sent home early. This law is called the four-hour minimum shift law because, in California, most full-time shifts are eight hours long. If a worker is scheduled to work six hours and is told to go home early or denied a chance to work, the employer would need to pay the worker their regular wages for at least three hours. 

It is crucial to note that an employer cannot pay an employee for less than two hours or more than four hours at the employee’s regular pay rate. 

Exceptions to the Reporting Time Pay Law

You should note that, as is the case with most labor laws, there are some exceptions to the Reporting Time Pay law. In other words, there are cases where a worker reports to work as scheduled and is sent back home or works fewer hours than planned and is not entitled to reporting time pay. For example, reporting time pay is not due if:

  • an Act of God, such as an earthquake, causes an interruption
  • an employer’s operations cannot start or continue because of threats to workers or property

In addition to the Reporting Time Pay law, California employees need to be aware of other labor laws. For example, employees should know that the minimum wage in 2023 is $15.50 per hour. Employees should also know that employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on, among others, the following characteristics;

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation

Contact a California Employment Lawyer

If you believe you have not been paid what is rightfully yours or need help with another employment-related matter, speak with a California employment lawyer near you.