California employers must pay reserve employees properly

There is constant economic pressure on employers in the San Diego area to keep their labor costs down.

There are legitimate ways for business to lower their labor costs, but California law protects businesses from taking steps that are unfair to this state’s workers. In general, businesses must pay their workers the required minimum wage and any overtime pay.

Unfortunately, some employers figure out clever, and sometimes legally suspect, ways to avoid paying workers additional wages.

For example, many employers may require their workers to be available on an on-call basis during certain times yet not pay them for this time.

In other cases, a business may schedule more people than it needs and then send workers home if it turns out that the workload is light on a given day. On the other hand, the employers will expect all workers to report as scheduled to their shifts.

Workers who are required to report to work are entitled to minimum pay

California requires what the law calls reporting to work pay. Reporting to work pay applies whenever someone comes to work as scheduled.

If an employer does not have work available, the employer may send the worker home. However, the employer must afford at least 2 hours of pay, but no more than 4 hours of pay, to the worker. Otherwise, reporting to work

Reporting pay requires employers to compensate a worker to come to work as required only to find out that he or she is not needed.

After all, the worker had to arrange his or her schedule to come to work as required and have foregone personal or even professional opportunities to do so.

On-call employees may be entitled to compensation

California law also requires that employers who place employees on call or standby to keep paying the employee’s wages if the employer expects the employee to stay immediately available at the location of the work. This is true even if the worker is not actually doing any work for the employer.

Whether an employer must pay an on-call employee who is free to leave the work site, or who would only report for duty if needed, is a question that depends on the specific facts and circumstances.

Generally speaking, though, employees who are not getting paid should have broad freedom to do as they wish during on-call time.