California 4-Hour Minimum Shift Law 2024: All You Need to Know

Frank S. Clowney III

Most employees in California operate under standard 8- to 10-hour shifts. There are many employees, however, who work odd hours. They cannot rely on arriving and leaving work at the same time each day. For example, on-call workers may have a lot of work one day and very little the next.

Those who work these types of jobs may expect this unreliability. However, it can be difficult to report to your workplace only to be informed that there is no work. This can reduce your income and waste your time. You likely planned around your work schedule and have now given up on other plans for nothing.

There are labor regulations under California’s employment law that protect on-call and scheduled-to-work employees. This 4-hour minimum pay requirement ensures that employees are entitled to half of their pay at minimum. This helps those employees who are told they must work a certain day only to be sent home.

Employees who generally work 8-hour shifts are guaranteed 4 hours of pay for that day. Some employees are required to check online or report in to see if they have a shift. If so, they must receive compensation for half the hours of that shift. This minimum compensation is also given if an employee is sent home early.

Understanding the Minimum 4-Hour Pay Rule

The minimum 4-hour compensation is also called the reporting time pay law. It requires an employer to compensate employees who report to work but are unable to work their full hours. Reporting to work constitutes:

  • Appearing at your place of work for the start of your shift
  • Reporting for work by logging into a computer for remote work
  • Arriving at a client job site for your shift
  • Beginning a trucking route
  • Being required to call in to work to check if you are scheduled

If you were not given enough warning that you were not needed at work or were sent home early, you must be compensated for at least half your normal hours. This provides you with at least the minimum compensation on days when you anticipated work and did not receive it. This gives you slightly more financial stability.

As many people have a regular workday of 8 hours, this is where the 4-hour minimum rule came from. However, this has led to confusion. 4 hours is not always the compensation level you will receive. If your shift is less than 4 hours, you must be compensated for a minimum of 2 hours at your normal rate of pay. For shifts longer than 8 hours, you can be compensated for a maximum of 4 hours at your normal pay rate.

Is My Employer Required to Provide a 4-Hour Shift?

The 4-hour minimum rule does not require employers to schedule employees for a minimum of 4 hours. There is no minimum hour requirement for part-time or full-time employment shifts.

Exceptions to the 4-Hour Minimum Compensation Rule

There are some exceptions to the reporting pay time law.

Factors that are outside the employer’s control will likely excuse the employer from the minimum compensation rule. This may include:

  • Earthquakes
  • Power outages
  • Other utility outages
  • Forest fires
  • Storms
  • A major law enforcement situation

If something unforeseeable prevents your employer from operating the business, they will be excused from paying you the 4-hour minimum shift pay.

If you decide to leave work early of your own accord, and not because your employer tells you to, you are not eligible to receive shift pay for those missed hours.

If something is determined to be an internal or controllable issue, your employer must pay you the necessary compensation. Your employer cannot use insufficient work performance or alleged misconduct as an excuse to refuse to pay your minimum compensation.

What to Do If You Are Denied Minimum Shift Pay

If your employer refuses to pay you the minimum shift pay that you are qualified for, you have two options. You can file a wage and hour claim or file a claim in court. Wage and hour claims may be filed with the Labor Commissioner’s Office or the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. You can work with an employment attorney to determine which claim most applies to your situation. An attorney can also help you negotiate with your employer prior to filing a claim. Employers must follow all state, federal, and local wage and hour laws. Employees deserve to be treated fairly and compensated for their time.

FAQs on 4-Hour Minimum Shift Law California

What is the 4-hour rule in California?

The 4-hour rule refers to the compensation that must be given to employees who are on-call or scheduled-to-work. Employees are entitled to a minimum of half their regular hours at their normal pay rate if they report to work and find there is none available. It also applies to employees who are sent home early. If an employee usually works 8-hour days, they are entitled to a minimum of 4 hours of their normal pay rate.

What is the official notice for California’s minimum wage in 2024?

As of January 1, 2023, the state minimum wage increased to $15.50 an hour. This has been part of a gradual increase to reach $15 an hour across the state since 2017, for both large and small employers. Now, it may be raised annually to reflect inflation of more than 7%. In some cities and counties, the minimum wage is higher. Employees in those areas must be paid according to the higher minimum wage.

Is there a 4-hour minimum shift in California?

There is no minimum shift requirement or minimum hour requirement for part-time or full-time employees. The 4-hour rule refers to minimum compensation in certain circumstances. These include on-call or scheduled-to-work employees who receive inadequate notice that they do not have any work for their shift. It does not apply to a minimum number of hours an employee must be given.

What are the labor law changes for 2023 in California?

California labor law changes include an increased minimum wage along with an increased minimum salary for exempt employees. 2023 laws will also extend certain COVID-19 provisions and provide changes to overtime pay for agricultural workers. There have also been changes to bereavement leave and sick leave, and protections for some emergency conditions.

Let The Law Office of Frank S. Clowney III Help You

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