California 4-Hour Minimum Shift Law 2024 – What You Need to Know

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California 4-Hour Minimum Shift Law 2024 – What You Need to Know
Apr 04

While many people work eight-hour shifts on a reliable schedule, that is not the case for all employees. Many employees are in a situation where their schedules are unreliable or are always on call. Their schedules may also change every week. For these employees, their availability is required, but the shift may or may not occur depending on the day.

Arriving at work and being turned away doesn’t come without a cost to the employees, though. These workers have likely paid for transit to the job and will also have to pay to make their way back home. To be at work, they may have had to arrange childcare or care for elders. They may have also turned down other opportunities for earning money, relying on the promise their employer made that they would be paid that day. This can turn a day on which an employee reasonably expected to be earning money into a day where they are on the hook for additional expenses with no income.

To address this issue, the state of California has put laws in place that require on-call and scheduled-to-work employees to be paid half their normal pay even if they are not allowed to work by their employer on that day. Since most shift workers are scheduled for eight-hour shifts, it was named the 4-Hour Shift Rule. However, four hours is not necessarily how much you’ll be paid for. For example, if your shift was only supposed to be four hours, you would be paid for two hours.

What Are the Requirements for the 4-Hour Shift Rule?

As with all legal statutes, there are several important requirements for you to be able to claim your half-shift of wages. Namely, you must be at the work site at the start of your shift to be counted as “at work” for the purposes of the statute. Alternatively, if your job is remote or is a trucking job, you are required to log into the appropriate remote computer program or begin your truck route to be considered “on the job.” Some employees are in an arrangement where they are required to call in to check the schedule daily before reporting for work. In these cases, calling in is sufficient to receive half of your pay for the day.

Additionally, if your employer gives you insufficient notice of no work, you are entitled to half-pay for the canceled shift. This means if your employer gives you less than 24 hours’ notice (or more, depending on the arrangements required to report to work), they must pay you half your shift’s wages.

What Are the Exceptions to This Rule?

There are several situations in which the employer is not the factor that caused the shift to be canceled. In these scenarios, the employer is not required to pay as work was canceled due to something other than a choice by the employer.

One very clear example is in the case of a natural disaster. If there is an earthquake, forest fire, or severe storm that disrupts normal business, the work site may not exist at the end of the day. Therefore, the employer could not reasonably be expected to pay wages for impossible work.

Another scenario is if a critical utility such as water or power goes out that makes work impossible or inadvisable, your employer is not required to pay for work that was canceled. Similarly, if major law enforcement activity cancels work, your employer may not legally be able to bring people on-site to do work.

The choice to cancel work must also be made by the employer, not by the worker. That means you can’t decide not to show up for work and expect to be paid.

How to Claim Your Wages if You Aren’t Compensated Properly

There are two ways to claim your wages if your employer does not compensate you appropriately. The first is to file a wage and hour claim with either the Labor Commissioner’s Office or the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, where they will process it in the order it was received. The second is to file a claim in court with the help of a Los Angeles wage and hour lawyer.


Q: What Is the Shortest Shift Allowed in CA?

A: There is no actual minimum shift length in California despite the name of the law. What the law indicates is that workers who show up to work but are not permitted to work their full shifts by the employer still get paid by the company. This prevents a company from scheduling an employee’s time and then not compensating them for it.

Q: How Many Hours Apart Do Shifts Need to Be in CA?

A: There is no legal requirement that shifts be separated in California. However, if an employee is working beyond eight hours in a day, they are legally entitled to overtime. An alternative workweek schedule may change this, but anything beyond normal hours is still subject to overtime.

Q: What Is the Break Law in CA?

A: Nearly all workers in California are entitled to breaks when they are working more than five hours a day. There must be a 30-minute unpaid break if an employee works more than five hours in a day, and two breaks are required when employees are working over 12 hours in one day. There is also a requirement for a 10-minute break for every four hours a person works.

Q: What Are the Minimum Hours for Part-Time Employees in CA?

A: The maximum number of hours a person can work and still be considered a part-time employee is 30 hours per week. After this point, an employee is considered full-time. However, there is no established minimum for an employee to be considered part-time. This means any benefits for part-time employees must be paid to them for any amount of time they work. However, these same rules may not apply to contractors.

Trust Clark Employment Law, APC, for Your Unpaid Wages Claim

If you require a Los Angeles wage and hour lawyer to assist you with an unpaid wages situation, Clark Employment Law, APC, has the experience to help. Contact our office for assistance today.

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