On February 4, 2019, the California Court of Appeal held, in Ward v. Tilly’s, Inc. , that an employee scheduled for an on-call shift may be entitled to certain wages for that shift even without physically reporting to work.
At issue in the case was the employer’s policy requiring workers who were scheduled for on-call shifts to call their employer two hours prior to the start of their shift to get instructions regarding whether or not they needed to physically report to work. The Court looked at the California’s Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) wage orders, which require employers to pay employees “reporting time pay” for 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 Court rejected the employer’s argument, that “report for work” meant that the employee physically showed up to work at the beginning of a shift. Instead, the Court accepted plaintiff Ward’s argument, that when on-call employees contact their employer two hours before on-call shifts, they are effectively “report[ing] for work” and thus are owed reporting time pay. The majority of the judges concluded “that the on-call scheduling alleged in th[at] case triggers Wage Order 7’s reporting time pay requirements” because “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 [the employer] unless they ultimately are called in to work.”
Importantly, the Ward majority announced a new interpretation for the reporting time pay requirement of California’s IWC wage orders:
“If an employer directs employees to present themselves for work by physically appearing at the workplace at the shift’s start, then the reporting time requirement is triggered by the employee’s appearance at the job site. But if the employer directs employees to present themselves for work by logging on to a computer remotely, or by appearing at a client’s job site, or by setting out on a trucking route, then the employee “reports for work” by doing those things. And if . . . the employer directs employees to present themselves for work by telephoning the store two hours prior to the start of a shift, then the reporting time requirement is triggered by the telephonic contact.”