California Hours Worked




Hours worked

California minimum wage laws require employers to pay non-exempt employees for all hours worked. Hours worked, as defined by the Industrial Welfare Commission, includes all time an employee is subject to the employer’s control and all time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, regardless of whether the employee is required to work or not. IWC Orders 1-16: Section 2(G). An employer must count all hours worked not matter where the work is performed. For example, hours worked may occur on the employer’s premises, at a designated worksite or other location such as at home.



Workweek

California minimum wage laws define a workweek as any seven consecutive 24-hour periods (168 consecutive hours) that begin with the same calendar day each week. The typical workweek begins each Sunday and ends the following Saturday, however, this need not be the case. The workweek may begin on any day of the week. CA Labor Code, Section 500(b)




Waiting time

California minimum wage laws require employers to count waiting time or standby time as hours worked if the employees are unable to effectively use the time for their own purposes. The fact that the employees may not perform any actual work duties during the waiting or standby time does permit the employer to exclude the time from its hours worked calculation. If the employees are subject to the employer’s control, employees must be compensated when doing nothing or waiting for something to do. CA DLSE 46.6.3, 47.5, 47.5.2, 47.5.4

Employers are permitted to pay employees a lower wage rate for waiting or standby time than they do for time when employees are performing actual job duties. Employers are permitted to pay employees a lower wage rate for waiting or standby time than they do for time when employees are performing actual job duties. CA DLSE 50.9.8.2



On-call time

California minimum wage laws require employers to count time spent by employees on-call as hours worked if the employees are required to remain on the employer’s premises or so close to the premises they are unable to effectively use the time for their own purposes. Employers are not required to pay employees for on-call time if the employees are not required to remain at or near their employer’s premises and are generally free to use the time for their own purposes. CA DLSE Enforcement Policies and Interpretations 46.6.3, 47.3.5.3, 47.5.2, 47.5.4

Employers are permitted to pay employees a lower wage rate for on-call time than they do for time when employees are performing actual job duties. CA DLSE 47.5.1.1



Sleeping time

California minimum wage laws require employers to count employee sleep time as hours worked if the employees’ shifts are less than 24 hours. If employees work 24-hour shifts, an employer may deduct up to 8 hours of sleep time from the employees’ hours worked for that shift, so long as the employer provides adequate sleeping facilities and the employees actually receive 8 hours of sleep. Employers are permitted to pay employees a lower wage rate for waiting or standby time than they do for time when employees are performing actual job duties. CA DLSE 46.4, 47.3.1 If employees do not get at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep, the hour sleep period must be counted as hours worked. CA DLSE 46.4, 47.3.1



Travel time

California minimum wage laws require an employer to count employee travel time as hours worked whenever it requires employees to travel, no matter when the travel occurs. This includes any time employees are required to travel out of town, whether on a one-day or overnight trip. An employer is not required to pay employees for any personal time taken while traveling, such as sleep time, meals, or sightseeing. If an employee’s travel time to a transportation center (airport, bus station, train station, etc.) is about the same as the travel time to the employee’s usual workplace, the employer may begin counting the employee’s travel time as hours worked once he or she arrives at the transportation center. CA DLSE 46.3

Employers must also count as hours worked time spent by employees traveling from a central reporting location to their actual work location. CA DLSE 46.2

Employers are permitted to pay employees a lower wage rate for waiting or standby time than they do for time when employees are performing actual job duties. The employer must notify employees they will be paid the lower wage rate before the travel begins. CA DLSE 46.3.2



Meeting, lecture, and training time

California minimum wage laws require employers to count time spent by employees at meetings, lectures, or training unless all four of the following criteria are met:

  • attendance occurs outside regular working hours;
  • attendance is voluntary;
  • the meeting, lecture, or training is not directly related to the employees job; and
  • the employee does not perform productive work while at the meeting, lecture, or training.

Attendance is consider to not be voluntary if employees are led to believe that their absence would lead to their termination or otherwise negatively impact their present working conditions in some other manner.

A meeting, lecture, or training is directly related to an employee’s job if it is designed to help the employee perform his or her current job duties more effectively as distinguished from preparing the employee for a new job or helping the employee learn a new skill.
CA DLSE 46.6.5



Show up or reporting time

California minimum wage laws require employers to pay non-exempt employees reporting or show up pay, unless an exception applies. Show up pay covers two types of situations:

  • employees who show up for a scheduled shift but are not permitted to work any time
  • employees who show up for work but work less than half their scheduled shift

In each of these scenarios, the employer is required to pay the employees at their regular pay rate for at least half of the employees’ usual or scheduled day’s work, with a minimum of two (2) hours pay and a maximum of four (4) hours pay. IWC Orders 1-16: Section 5(A)

In situation where employees are required to report to work for a second time during the same workday, an employer must pay the employee for a minimum of (2) hours regardless of hour many hours the employee actually works. IWC Orders 1-16: Section 5(B)
An employer does not need to pay employees reporting or show up pay if:

  • the employer’s operation cannot begin or continue due to a threat to employees or property,
  • civil authorities recommend that the employer not begin or cease operations,
  • public utilities do not provide electricity, water, or gas, or there is a failure of public utilities or the sewer system,
  • the employer’s operation cannot begin or continue due to an Act of God or any other cause not within control of the employer, and
  • the employee is on paid standby status and the employee is called to report at a time other than their scheduled reporting time.

IWC Orders 1-16: Section 5(C) & (D)

An employer does not need to count hours compensated as show up time but not actually worked as hours worked when calculating weekly overtime obligations.