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January 2012

Employers Not Required to Pay Employees "Reporting Time" Pay for Work Periods Lasting Less than Two Hours

In a positive decision for California employers, the California Court of Appeals has determined that California employers are not obligated to pay "show up" or reporting time pay to employees required to attend scheduled meetings on a weekly basis which last only about an hour.  Addressing an issue of first impression, the Court ruled that an employee was not entitled to reporting time pay under the California Industrial Welfare Commission's Wage Order No. 4-2001 for attending scheduled meetings that ran shorter than expected and lasted less than two hours when the employee worked at least half the scheduled time.

The plaintiff, a customer service representative for AirTouch Cellular in Los Angeles, was required, along with fellow employees, to attend store meetings every Saturday or Sunday before the store opened.  These meetings lasted between 60 and 90 minutes.  Frequently, he and the other employees who were required to report for the mandatory meetings on their days off and were not scheduled to work afterwards.  AirTouch paid them for the time spent at the meetings but nothing more.  The meeting times were included on the employees' weekly schedules, which were distributed four days before the workweek began.

Under California law, employees who are required to report to work and sent home early are typically entitled to receive wages for two hours of  "reporting time" pay.  In other words, employees who are not given work for at least half of their usual or scheduled hours are entitled to a reporting time premium to make up the difference.  (Cal.Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11040, subd. 5(A).)

Plaintiff sued AirTouch for "show up" pay for days he and his co-workers were required to report for mandatory meetings that lasted only about one hour on their days off.

The Court disagreed with plaintiff and found in favor of AirTouch: "When an employee is scheduled to work, the minimum two-hour pay requirement applies only if the employee is furnished work for less than half the scheduled time, the right to at least two hours of wages is conditional — it is dependent on the antecedent that an employee is not put to work or is furnished less than half of said employee's usual or scheduled day's work."

"Every time [plaintiff] was scheduled to report to work (whether for a meeting or otherwise), he was furnished at least half the scheduled day's work," the Court wrote. "He was therefore entitled to receive wages compensating him for the actual time worked, but was not owed reporting time pay." [Aleman v. AirTouch Cellular (CalApp 2011) no. B231142]

Employers wishing to follow this decision should note that the Court based its holding on two key factual findings: (1) AirTouch scheduled the weekly mandatory meetings and gave notice to their employees well in advance of the meeting times; and (2) the meetings always lasted at least half the scheduled time, i.e., plaintiff and his fellow employees were furnished at least half the scheduled day's work. 

This ruling should provide much more flexibility to employers in scheduling staff meetings or any work period of less than two hours.  So long as the employer establishes what the expected duration of work will be, and the employee works at least one-half of that time, no reporting time pay will be owed.





Employment Law

Employment Law