Reporting time pay is a form of “premium” pay that, like overtime or missed meal period compensation, is intended to discourage work scheduling practices that are deemed to create a special burden on employees. Reporting time pay, also called “Show-Up Pay,” is intended to discourage employers with variable work demands from deliberately over-staffing their operations and then sending home any “excess” workers without pay.
Think of it as the workforce equivalent of the much-despised airline practice of over-booking their flights and then “bumping” passengers to another flight if there is no room on the plane. The difference is that instead of a coupon for his next flight to Cleveland, the “bumped” employee must be paid between two and four hours of pay at his regular hourly rate.
Reporting time pay is actually one of the most overlooked requirements of California wage and hour law. One reason is that it is has never been codified in a Labor Code section. Rather, it is solely a regulatory creation of the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”), which is contained only in the IWC Wage Orders that govern various industries in California.
The Reporting Time requirement is set forth in Section 5 of every Wage Order, each of which provides:
(A) 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.
(B) If an employee is required to report for work a second time on any one workday and is furnished less than two (2) hours of work on the second reporting, said employee shall be paid for two (2) hours at the employee’s regular rate of pay, which shall not be less than the minimum wage.
(C) The foregoing reporting time pay provisions are not applicable when: (1) Operations cannot commence or continue due to threats to employees or property; or when recommended by civil authorities; or (2) Public utilities fail to supply electricity, water, or gas, or there is a failure in the public utilities, or sewer system; or (3) The interruption of work is caused by an Act of God or other cause not within the employer’s control.
(D) This section shall not apply to an employee on paid standby who is called to perform assigned work at a time other than the employee’s scheduled reporting time.
Scenarios that could trigger an obligation to pay “reporting time” of up to four-hour’s wages include:
- Requiring employees to come in to work solely to attend a short staff meetings;
- Sending employees home when work is slow (this happens often to waiters and waitresses);
- Requiring employees to come in to the office on their “day off” to check a posted schedule or to pick up or drop off equipment or merchandise.