In California, most employers are required to pay “reporting time pay” to employees who show up for meetings or other work separate from their normal shift. The right to reporting time pay is codified in Section 5 of the Wage Orders, which states — “Each workday 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, the employee shall be paid for half the usual or scheduled day’s work, but in no event for less than two (2) hours nor more than four (4) hours, at the employee’s regular rate of pay, which shall not be less than the minimum wage.”
Back in 2011, the California Court of Appeal held in Aleman v. AirTouch Cellular, 202 Cal. App. 4th 117, that an employer does not have to pay “reporting time pay” to an employee who attends a scheduled meeting so long as the employee is paid for at least half of the scheduled time. But, in March 2012, the California Supreme Court granted review in the Aleman case and held it pending the Court’s decision in Kirby v. Imoos Fire Protection, Inc. on a related attorneys’ fees issue.
The California Supreme Court issued its decision in the Kirby case in April 2012 (which I blogged about here) and transferred the Aleman case back to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration.
Finally, after a five month delay, the Court of Appeal issued its new decision in Aleman vs. AirTouch Cellular. This new decision is helpful to California employers. It confirms that when an employee is scheduled to appear for work — whether for his/her usual shift or for a meeting that is much shorter than his/her usual shift — the reporting time pay requirement applies only if the employee is furnished work for less than half of the scheduled time. In other words, if a full-time employee is scheduled to come to a 2 hour meeting on his day off, that employee will not be eligible for reporting time pay if the meeting lasts more than 1 hour. It is irrelevant how many hours that employee’s “usual” shift is.
Because some of the employees in Aleman worked shifts later in the day after the meetings occurred, the employees also claimed that they were entitled to split-shift premiums. The Court held that no split shift premium was owed because the total compensation paid to the employees for that day equaled at least the minimum wage plus one hour of additional pay. Thus, in effect, the split shift had already been paid.
Interestingly, because the Aleman Court ruled that a split-shift premium claim was essentially a claim for unpaid minimum wages, it was governed by the one-way attorneys’ fee shifting provision in Labor Code §1194. Thus, the employer could not recover attorneys’ fees for successfully defending this claim. However, on the issue of reporting time pay, the Court ruled that claim was essentially a claim for “wages” governed by Labor Code §218.5 (which allows any successful party on a claim for wages to recover attorneys’ fees). The Court therefore awarded attorneys’ fees to the employer on that claim.
The new Aleman decision, which became final on September 20, 2012, can be found here.