Reporting time may entitle employees to extra pay
Michael Raziano worked in California as a truck driver for Albertsons, the second largest grocery chain in North America. He, together with other drivers, sued their employer in a class action alleging that the grocery chain did not pay workers for reporting time as required by California law. According to their complaint, Albertsons had a call-in scheduling policy, which required part-time drivers to “report” to work each evening by calling in to work in order to find out if they were scheduled to work the following day. The drivers were not paid for calling in to report.
The drivers also alleged that Albertsons failed to pay them for preliminary work before their official shift started, failed to pay them for the time spent submitting to bag searches after the shift, and failed to compensate them for all business expenses. Albertsons’ policy limited the reimbursement of work-related expenses at $80 a day regardless of the driver’s actual expense.
Under California law, if an employee is required to report to work, but is not put to work, or does not work half of the employee’s scheduled day’s work, the employee is paid a half-shift reporting wage of at least two hours but not to exceed four hours. Generally, if an employee is required to show up a second time in any one workday and is furnished less than two hours of work on the second reporting, he or she must be paid for two hours at his or her regular rate of pay. These must be paid in addition to the hours the employee actually worked. This is called “reporting time” or “show up” pay.
Requiring employees to be on On-Call shifts is similar to requiring employees to come to work without a guarantee of work. On-Call employees create a pool of contingent workers available to the employer without necessarily having to pay any of them. Even though there was no transportation cost or significant lost time incurred by the employees in the On-Call shift situation, there are “tremendous costs on employees.”
An employee, therefore, need not necessarily appear at the workplace to “report for work.” Instead, “reporting for work” is best understood as presenting oneself as ordered. It is the employer who directs the manner in which the employee is to present himself or herself for work – whether at the worksite or by phone. Either way, reporting time must be paid.
Reporting time pay was contemplated as a “penalty” for employers who require workers to be available for contingencies without paying them. Allowing employees to report to work when there is little or no work is “serious abuse.” The reporting time pay is meant to combat this abuse and encourage employers to properly schedule employees.
Unpredictable schedules have negative effects on workers’ health brought on by the stress created by the uncertainties over earnings, budgeting for household needs, paying for childcare, attending to medical appointments, or engaging in pursuits that may better a worker’s life such as continuing education. Studies have shown that shift workers or those whose schedules are irregular and could either be day or night, are more susceptible to adverse health conditions such as sleep disorders and metabolic syndrome, which elevate the risk for stroke, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
In order to lessen potential lawsuits about irregular schedules, some large employers in the retail sector have designed a scheduling system that provides predictable basic hours for employees, while also allowing workers to switch shifts with one another or work extra shifts when asked.
Rather than proceed to trial, Albertsons agreed to pay $2.5 million dollars to the drivers to resolve the lawsuit.
The Law Offices of C. Joe Sayas, Jr. welcomes inquiries about this topic. All inquiries are confidential and at no-cost. You can contact the office at (818) 291-0088 or visit www.joesayaslaw.com. [For more than 25 years, C. Joe Sayas, Jr., Esq. successfully recovered wages and other monetary damages for thousands of employees and consumers. He was named Top Labor & Employment Attorney in California by the Daily Journal, consistently selected as Super Lawyer by the Los Angeles Magazine, and is a past Presidential Awardee for Outstanding Filipino Overseas.]