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Minimum Work Shifts – Reporting Pay Laws

pay packet

I love it when readers ask questions. I’m not an expert, but I try to provide the best answers I can. This article covers a common question I receive.

When you show up for your regular shift, but get sent home early, is there a minimum number of hours your employer must pay?

In short, the answer is most likely no. But there might be a state law that provides some relief.

Reporting pay

The typical legal term for this type of payment is “reporting pay.” Sometimes it is also called “show up pay.”

Basically, some employers have to pay their employees a minimum number of hours when the employee shows up for work but is sent home early. The typical reporting pay statute requires around 3-4 hours of work for a shift. If you work the minimum number of hours during a shift, reporting pay is not an issue. But if your employer sends you home after only 1 or 2 hours, he must give you “show up pay” for another couple of hours.

No federal reporting pay

To complicate this subject even further, federal law has no reporting pay requirements. If you are entitled to reporting pay, it will be based on a state law or maybe a local ordinance.

For many employees, this means you’re out of luck. From a federal standpoint, minimum working shifts is just not an issue of concern. But as we’re about to see, some states require reporting pay.

State reporting pay requirements

California’s reporting pay statute provides a great example:

Each workday an employee is required to report to work, but is not put to work or is furnished with less than half of his or her usual or scheduled day’s work, the employee must be paid for half the usual or scheduled day’s work, but in no event for less than two hours nor more than four hours, at his or her regular rate of pay.

If an employee is required to report to work 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.

To find out if your state has a reporting pay law, you should contact your state’s labor department. Most of them have great information on their website. Here are the state labor department websites:

District of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

Any questions?

Hopefully this article helps answer your reporting pay questions. But if I missed something or this is unclear, please post a comment below. We can all learn from each other!

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4 Responses to “Minimum Work Shifts – Reporting Pay Laws”

  1. Barbara-Lee
    January 23rd, 2008

    I work designing kitchen and bathroom remodeling and selling granite countertops and tile. I am supposed to earn an hourly wage plus commision. Since the housing crash , my employer has been paying me little to nothing at all since August, ’07. I keep being told we ( two of my co-workers are being told the same ) will eventually will be reimbursed when things get better. But in this company we are the only ones not being payed and we are the sales team bringing in the money everyone else is being paid from. We are not recieving hourly or commision. What, besides quiting, can we do? What are our legal options especially in collecting our back commision, which I,m told we may never get only hourly? I’d appreciate any advice.

  2. Andrew Flusche
    January 23rd, 2008

    Barbara – My best advice is to find an employment lawyer in your area. If your employer is not paying you properly, you probably have legal recourse. And an attorney might take the case on a contingent basis (he’d receive a portion of the recovered pay). Best of luck!

  3. Ashley Barth
    May 11th, 2008

    My 18 year old sister has a part- time job at the mall. She has to call in to work on the days she is scheduled to see if she is needed. On the days that she is needed there are times that she only ends up working for two hours. Also she is not given a schedule to take home and on several occasions they have changed the schedule and have not notified her abou it. I know that she is only a part-time worker but is there still a minimum amount of hours she should be given either to work daily or even weekly?

  4. Andrew Flusche
    May 11th, 2008

    @Ashley – A lot of these questions depend upon the state in which your sister is working. Generally, employers can schedule employees for whatever hours they want. Some states require a minimum amount of pay, if an employee is asked to come in to work, but sent home after a short time. That is called “reporting time pay.” You could call your state’s labor department for more information.

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