Pay for Reporting Time under California Law: Do On-Call Shifts Count?

California law requires employers to pay employees for “reporting time” under the following circumstances:

(1) when employees are required to report for work, (2) do report but (3) are either not put to work or provided less than half of their usual daily shift or scheduled shift. See Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Orders 1-16, Section 5; Ward v. Tilly’s, Inc. (2019) 31 Cal. App. 5th 1167, 1171.

Under IWC Wage Orders 1-16, reporting time pay amounts to two to four hours of pay at an employee’s regular rate, as follows:

(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 in 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.

In Ward v. Tilly’s, Inc. the California Court of Appeal considered whether employees must physically appear at their worksite in order to be entitled to reporting time pay. Ward, 31 Cal. App. 5th at 1172. Defendant Tilly’s, Inc., a retail clothing company, required employees to contact their stores two hours before the start of on-call shifts to determine whether they were needed to work those shifts. Id. at 1171.  Employees were told to “consider an on-call shift a definite thing until they are actually told they do not need to come in.” Id.

The plaintiff, a sales clerk, argued that employees were entitled to reporting time pay even when they did not physically appear at the worksite at the start of scheduled shifts but were on-call and called-in. Id. Tilly’s argued that in order to be eligible for reporting time pay, employees must be present at the worksite at the start of their shift. Id.

The California Court of Appeal sided with the plaintiff, holding that eligibility for reporting time pay does not hinge on physical presence at the worksite. Id. at 1185. Instead, the court found that reporting to work is “best understood as presenting oneself as ordered” and therefore reporting time pay also extends to those employees who are on-call. Id.

The Ward Court reasoned that this interpretation of reporting time was consistent with the IWC’s goals in adopting reporting time pay under the wage orders. Id. at 1183. In particular, the court found that requiring reporting time pay for on-call shifts was consistent with the policy goals of requiring employers to internalize the costs of overscheduling, compensating employees for the inconvenience and expense of being available for on-call shifts (including hiring caregivers, forgoing other employment and traveling) and making employee pay more predictable. Id. at 1184-85.

In sum, even if you do not physically report to work, you may still be eligible for reporting time pay. Reporting time violations are common in retail, fast food, restaurant, construction and other industries.

The workers’ rights attorneys at Hunter Pyle Law have handled PAGA and class cases throughout California. If you have questions about your rights in the workplace, please feel free to contact us in order to utilize our free and confidential intake process. We can be reached at or at (510) 444-4400.