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Employees Entitled to Reporting Time Pay for Shift Call-Ins

"On call" employees must be paid for calling in to see if they are scheduled to work, even when their employers say they do not need to come in.

In Ward v. Tilly's, Inc., California's Second District Court of Appeals said on-call shifts burden employees and they should be paid for it. In some cases, that means a half-day's pay for being on-call.

It was a surprise for Tilly's, the clothing store, but it was not the only one. Other large chains have not been paying on-call workers either.

On-Call Workers

Tilly's workers, like the plaintiff Skylar Ward, were required to call-in two hours before the start of their scheduled shifts to find out if they had to work. If they were told to come in, they were paid for the shifts they worked; if not, they received nothing.

Under California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 11070, however, employers are required to pay for reporting time. The law says workers who report for work must receive at least two hours' pay for showing up, even if they are not put to work.

The same applies to on-call workers, the appeals court said. When an employer requires workers to call in, that is the same as reporting for work.

"As we explain, on-call shifts burden employees, who cannot take other jobs, go to school, or make social plans during on-call shifts--but who nonetheless receive no compensation from Tilly's unless they ultimately are called in to work," the Second District said. "This is precisely the kind of abuse that reporting time pay was designed to discourage."

Wake Up Call

Commenting on the decision, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp said it "broadly impacts all industries."

For example, the firm said, Victoria's Secret and Abercrombie & Fitch have been recent targets of class-action claims that led to multi-million dollar settlements in similar cases. The stores failed to pay reporting time to employees who were required to call in but not work, the lawyers said.

"Accordingly, based on the Court's decision in Ward, an employee who is required to call-in two hours before his or her shift to confirm whether the employee is required to report to work, 'must be paid for half the employee's scheduled shift for the day, but in no event less than two hours nor more than four hours of pay,'" they said.

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