The court ruled that a call-in scheduling policy triggered a reporting time obligation
In many industries, it isn’t unusual for employees to have to call into their workplace, look at an online schedule, or otherwise check in to determine if they are required to work a shift that day. If an employee does not have to work, that was typically the end of the story — he or she did not get paid, and had the day free. Under a recent California Court of Appeal ruling, however, such a call-in requirement would trigger the employer’s reporting time obligation.
Employer Tilly’s, Inc. required on-call employees to call the store two hours before a shift started to find out if they had to work that shift. If an employee failed to call in, called in late, or refused to work their on-call shift, he or she was subject to formal discipline. After three incidents, the employee could be terminated. In Ward v. Tilly’s, Inc., the California Court of Appeal found that this practice required Tilly’s to pay employee’s “reporting time pay” under Wage Order No. 7-2001.
According to a California employment lawyer, California has a number of wage orders that require employers to pay employees what is known as reporting time pay. This is pay for each workday that “an employee is required to report for work and does report, but is not put to work or is furnished less than half said employee’s usual or scheduled day’s work.” In such a case, the employee must be paid half of the usual or scheduled day’s work, but no less than 2 and no more than 4 hours of pay, at the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Historically, these wage orders have been interpreted to mean that an employee must physically show up to work in order to receive reporting time pay. The California Court of Appeal held that “an employee need not necessarily physically appear at the workplace to ‘report for work.’ Instead, ‘reporting for work’ within the meaning of the wage order is best understood as presenting oneself as ordered. ‘Report for work,’ in other words, does not have a single meaning, but instead is defined by the party who directs the manner in which the employee is to present himself or herself for work—that is, by the employer.” In other words, if an employee is ordered to check in for work — such as by calling in to check their schedule — this triggers the reporting time pay requirement.
Importantly, this does not mean that reporting time pay will be given anytime that an employee checks his or her schedule. As an experienced California employment lawyer can explain, an employer is only obligated to pay reporting time pay if it requires employees to call in or check their schedule to find out if they need to work, and they are not required to work.
This case specifically applies to the wage order that affects retail industries, No. 7-2001. However, according to a California employment lawyer, the language of this wage order regarding reporting time pay is shared by most wage orders. As a result, most employees will be entitled to this type of pay if they are required to check in for on-call or standby shifts.
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