The California Court of Appeal recently ruled in Ward v. Tilly’s Inc. that employers who utilize “on call” scheduling have to pay reporting time pay to their employees. This decision is sending shockwaves through California’s restaurant and retail industries because it will significantly increase payroll costs for those employers — and all others who require employees to call in for their shifts prior to working.
What is “Reporting Time Pay”?
Under existing California law, employers have to pay “reporting time pay” to an employee for any workday in which that 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.” The amount of reporting time pay for each such workday is “half the usual or scheduled day’s work, but in no event for less than two (2) hours nor more than four (4) hours.”
What this means is that if an employee is scheduled to work on a day, and if the employee is prohibited from working or if given less than half of his/her usual shift, the employer owes that employee “reporting time pay” equal to 50% of that employee’s usual shift wages, with the minimum owed being 2 hours and the maximum owed being 4 hours.
In Ward v. Tilly, employees were scheduled for two different types of shifts: (1) regular shifts, in which employees were guaranteed work on a set time and date, and (2) “call-in” or “on-call” shifts, in which employees worked only if they were told to do so when they called-in 2 hours before their on-call shift start time. The employer did not pay its employees for the time they spent calling in or for the on-call shifts that they were not required to work.
The Ward v. Tilly Decision
The Court in Ward v. Tilly concluded that these employees “reported for work” when they “presented oneself as ordered.” This means that, for empl0yees who are required to call in for their schedule, the employer’s obligation to pay reporting time pay is triggered by the employee’s act of telephoning the employer. When that employee telephones in, if the employee is not given at least half his/her usual shift, then employer will owe reporting time pay. As the Court explained:
“If an employer directs employees to present themselves for work by physically appearing at the workplace at the shift’s start, then the reporting time requirement is triggered by the employee’s appearance at the job site. But if the employer directs employees to present themselves for work by logging on to a computer remotely, or by appearing at a client’s job site, or by setting out on a trucking route, then the employee “reports for work” by doing those things. And if, as plaintiff alleges in this case, the employer directs employees to present themselves for work by telephoning the store two hours prior to the start of a shift, then the reporting time requirement is triggered by the telephonic contact.”
What This Means for California Employers and Employees
This is a major expansion of employer’s reporting time pay obligations in California. Prior to Ward v. Tilly, reporting time pay was through to be triggered only when an employee presented himself/herself at work and then was denied work or given less than half his/her usual shift. But Ward v. Tilly has changed that. Now simply requiring an employee to make a call from home will trigger reporting pay in California if that employee is not given at least half of his/her usual shift when he/she calls in.
California employers who require employees to call in for their schedule may want to end that practice now after Ward v. Tilly. after this decision. and will likely lead many restaurants and retail companies to change their shift scheduling policies in order to avoid paying reporting time pay.
You can read the Court’s opinion in Ward v. Tilly here.