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California Labor Laws and Minimum Work Hours per Day [Update]

Posted by Leslie Ruhland on Sep 7, 2017 3:36:46 PM
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[This blog was originally published on September 21, 2015 and was updated on December 6, 2016 and again on September 5, 2017]

Understanding California labor laws are essential for Human Resources departments and Payroll 
departments since they are the two main players when it comes to ensuring that employees are being paid correctly and on-time.

Therefore both entities need to understand the impact that an employee’s working schedule may have on his or her pay.

In California the concept of “reporting time pay” was created to ensure employers aren’t taking advantage of workers by over scheduling a shift then sending them home if not needed. The Industrial Welfare Commission Orders require employers to pay their nonexempt employees for regularly scheduled, but unworked time because of the lack of proper notification or inadequate scheduling by the employer.

Reporting Time Scheduling

The California Code of Regulations describes Reporting Time Pay as the time an employee must be paid based on the employee’s scheduled shift. This part of California labor law serves to address employers who schedule employees for full shifts and then send them home because business doesn’t warrant them working the full shift.

In essence, if an employee is sent home by the employer before the end of at least half of their usual shift, they are entitled to be paid a minimum of half their shift.

Truth about Minimum Work Hours per Day

Because California labor law mentions a two hour minimum and a four hour maximum, many have confused that to mean the law requires employees be scheduled a minimum number of work hours per day.

Not true.

The California Court of Appeals clarified this in the case of Aleman v. AirTouch Cellular, ruled on December 21, 2011. Although this case was brought regarding employee meetings, the ruling makes clear that the amount due to the employee is based on the actual length of their scheduled shift, and not on an arbitrary four hour, or eight hour shift.

And, it clarifies that California labor law does not require a minimum hour work day. It simply requires employers to pay at least half of the employee’s scheduled shift if the full shift isn’t worked.

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The Impact of California's New Minimum Wage Laws on Work Hours

At the other end of the scheduling spectrum is mandated minimum wage and overtime pay.

Traditionally, agricultural workers in California have been poorly served on both of these fronts.  But the recent passage of new minimum wage lawsand mandated overtime may have a negative impact that was unintended.

A survey by Western Growers reveals these new California labor laws increasing the minimum wage and creating new rules for overtime pay will end up costing both farm workers and the largely rural communities where they live.
 
The law resulted in California’s minimum wage being set at $10.50 per hour in 2017. This will increase incrementally to $15 per hour by 2023. Inevitably, this will have an impact on the hours worked by agricultural laborers.
 
An additional aspect of the state’s new overtime law for agriculture will be phased in between 2019 and 2022.
 
Beginning in 2019, any hours worked over 55 hours per week, or more than nine-and-a-half hours on any workday, will be compensated as overtime pay, And by 2022, agricultural employees working more than 40 hours in a week and eight hours in a day will be paid one and one-half times that employee’s regular rate of pay. 
 
The same survey indicated that, because of the new laws, growers will be very likely to reduce their rising labor costs in a number of ways, including reducing California output, planting less labor-intensive crops and mechanizing farm work.
 
In addition, higher wage costs may force growers cut back on employee benefits, including healthcare, vacation and retirement funding, according to survey results. In fact, 80.4% of farm companies plan to cut back hours offered to farm workers. In addition, 78% of those growers polled said they plan to mechanize existing labor-intensive jobs.
 
Currently, farm workers who put in more than 10 hours a day receive overtime.

The Take-Away: Efficient Employee Scheduling is Critical

Employers don’t have to provide a minimum shift for their employees, but they do need to be careful on how they schedule them. By understanding California labor laws and considering the impact when scheduling, employers can ensure that they stay compliant, and therefore minimize the cost related to reporting time pay due.

In addition, having online employee scheduling software can help ensure consistency, accuracy and compliance. With an automated schedule maker, you can set up standard shifts to accelerate the scheduling process. Efficient employee scheduling is important not only for compliance purposes, but for reducing time spent setting up, changing and assigning shifts and schedules. 

With TimeSimplicity software from Accuchex you have an integrated schedule maker that will help with online shift scheduling. You simply set up a standard schedule for each employee, then just copy and paste it into each schedule period. From there, you can drag and drop shifts as much as you like, but you'll already have the basic structure in place.

In addition, you can arrange employee schedules with drag-and-drop simplicity. Changing shift start and end times is as effortless as dragging and dropping with your mouse. Managers can easily observe, monitor, and approve shift request changes online.  And once a shift change is approved, TimeSimplicity automatically alerts the appropriate staff members.

Getting Help to Take Your Employee Scheduling to the Next Level

It doesn’t matter what your company does, payroll plays a key role in the success of any company. Partnering with Accuchex allows you to focus on your business yet still maintain peace of mind knowing your payroll is handled accurately.

The complete online payroll solutions provided by Accuchex covers everything you need to make sure your payroll is taken care of and that is why we are a trusted California payroll solutions provider. We offer our services in California Bay area – North bay, South Bay and East bay, including San Francisco. Call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.

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Topics: california labor law, overtime pay, payroll compliance, employee scheduling, Online shift scheduling, Schedule maker

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