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Split-Shift Premiums Under California Law



What is a split shift under California law?

According to California law, a split shift occurs when (a) a non-exempt employee’s work schedule includes a block of unpaid, non-working time (other than a meal period) that is more than 60 minutes long; and (b) this block of unpaid, non-working time interrupts two work periods.

An example of a split shift is when a waiter works a shift from 9:00am to 1:00pm and then returns to work later that same day for a shift from 4:00pm to 7:00pm.

What is a split-shift premium?

An employee who is paid the minimum wage must be paid a split-shift premium for each day that the employee has a split shift. A split-shift premium is equal to one hour of pay at the minimum wage rate. (In California, the minimum wage is $11 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.)

The rationale for the split-shift premium is that an employee is not free to do absolutely whatever he wants to do during the unpaid, non-working time on a split-shift day because he must return to work later that day for the second shift. For instance, the employee may be able to run personal errands in between shifts, but he will not be able to take a day trip out of town.

Example – On Tuesday, Ron works from 9:00am to 12:00pm and then from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. Ron earns the minimum wage ($11 per hour). For Tuesday, Ron's employer must pay him $66 ($11 x 6 hours), plus $11 (the split-shift premium).

Is an employee entitled to a split-shift premium if he makes more than the minimum wage?

It depends. If the employee’s total daily wage is more than the minimum wage for all hours worked, plus one additional hour at the minimum wage rate, then the employee is not entitled to any split-shift premium. Moreover, any amounts paid to the employee that are above the minimum wage may be used to reduce the split-shift premium that is due to the employee. Here are some examples of how this works:

Example A – On Wednesday, Brian works from 9:00am to 1:00pm and then from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. Brian earns $13 per hour, so his total daily wage for Wednesday is $91 (i.e., $13 x 7 hours). Does the employer owe Brian a split-shift premium?

To figure that out, calculate the total minimum wage for the hours worked, plus one additional hour at the minimum wage rate. In this case, that total is $88 (i.e., $11 x 7 hours, plus the $11 split-shift premium). Because Brian’s total daily wage is higher than $88, the employer does not owe Brian any split-shift premium.

Example B – On Thursday, Maggie works from 10:00am to 1:00pm and then from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. Maggie earns $12 per hour, so her total daily wage is $72 (i.e., $12 x 6 hours).

To figure out whether the employer owes Maggie a split-shift premium, calculate the total minimum wage for the hours worked, plus one additional hour at the minimum wage rate. In this case, that total is $77 (i.e., $11 x 6 hours, plus the $11 split-shift premium). The employer owes Maggie a split-shift premium in the amount of $5 (i.e., $77 minus $72).

An employee is normally scheduled to work one shift every day (from 9:00am to 2:00pm). He wants to work an extra shift today (from 4:00pm to 7:00pm). Is he entitled to a split-shift premium?

If the employer is not requiring the employee to work the extra shift, and the employee is simply volunteering to work that shift, he is not entitled to a split-shift premium.

Click here to read about reporting time pay under California law.

If you have questions about split-shift premiums, call ((916) 612-0326) or email (contact@finleyemplaw.com) Finley Employment Law today. We serve clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Granite Bay, and Elk Grove.

The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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