IfI am scheduled at a restaurant with a start time of 4 pm, am I entitled to pay if they notify me at 2 pm that I’m not needed?

My employer has set up a call off system to notify scheduled employees if there is enough business to support the scheduled employees. They prerecord a message of which employees will be needed for the shift approximately 2 hours prior to the shift. It is then the employees responsibility to call the message line to determine if they’re working. Not knowing if you will be working until 2 hours before the shift is a tremendous hardship to deal with every single day. They will staff 20 employees and only use 5 on some days.

Asked on October 19, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, even though, as you state, this is a hardship, the employer is entitled to do this. Employees only need to be paid for the hours they work. An employer has control over hours, shifts, scheduling, who will work a given day, whether they open for business (or to what extent) for any given day, etc. Therefore, an employer may have a call off system where it notifies employees a few hours before work whether or not there will work for them and whether they should report to work. As long as you get notice at some point prior to setting out for or going to work, the employer does not need to pay you. There is no legal remedy for this situation; if possible, you may wish to seek alternate employment, whose policies you find more amendable. Good luck.

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