What Is California 4 Hour Minimum Pay Law?

As of January 2024, the District of Columbia held the position of having the highest minimum wage in the United States, which stood at $17 per hour. California’s 4-hour minimum pay law aims to protect employees’ rights and guarantee fair compensation for short-duration work.

This regulation has implications that could impact both employers and employees in significant ways. This law establishes specific requirements for employers when scheduling and compensating their employees for short shifts.

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of the California 4-hour minimum pay, its impact on anyone involved in the state’s workforce, and the protections it offers.

Overview of California 4 Hour Minimum Pay Law

This law mandates that employers in California must pay employees for at least half of their scheduled shifts, even if they work fewer hours.

If an employee is scheduled for an eight-hour shift but is sent home after working only two hours, they’re still entitled to four hours of pay. This regulation aims to protect workers from last-minute shift cancellations or reductions that could leave them without sufficient income to cover their expenses.

Employers need to be aware of this law to avoid potential penalties for non-compliance. Accurately track and compensate employees for their time worked, making sure that they receive the minimum pay required by law.

Eligibility Criteria for the Law

Employees who are scheduled to work a shift of more than four hours and who show up for work as required are typically covered by this law. This means that if you’re sent home before completing half of your scheduled shift, you’re entitled to receive half of your scheduled hours at your regular rate of pay.

On-call employees, who report to work, but are then sent home without being provided with at least half of their scheduled hours are also eligible for the minimum pay. Certain exemptions apply to specific industries and occupations, so it’s advisable to check with the California labor laws or consult with HR professionals to determine your eligibility under this law.

Always keep detailed records of your work hours and any instances where you weren’t compensated according to the California 4-Hour Minimum Pay Law to protect your rights as an employee.

Calculating Minimum Pay Entitlement

When determining your entitlement to minimum pay under the California 4-Hour Minimum Pay Law, consider the hours you were scheduled to work versus the hours worked.

If you were scheduled to work for more than four hours but ended up working less due to employer action, you’re entitled to be paid for half of the scheduled hours, at your regular rate of pay, with a minimum of two hours and a maximum of four hours.

For example, if you were scheduled for an 8-hour shift but were sent home after 2 hours, you should receive 4 hours of pay. If you were scheduled for a 6-hour shift but worked only 3 hours, you’re still entitled to 4 hours of pay.

Understand this calculation to make sure you receive fair compensation under the California 4-Hour Minimum Pay Law. Make sure to keep track of your scheduled hours and actual hours worked to assert your rights if needed.

Enforcement and Penalties

Enforcement of the California 4-Hour Minimum Pay Law involves monitoring employers’ compliance with the regulations and imposing penalties for violations.

Employers are required to make sure that non-exempt employees who are scheduled to work for more than four hours receive at least four hours of pay at their regular rate, even if the work is cut short. Not following this law can result in penalties for the employer. If an employer fails to provide the minimum pay required by law, they may be liable to pay the employee for the full scheduled shift, up to four hours of pay.

To enforce compliance, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) may investigate complaints or conduct random audits to make sure employers are abiding by the law. Penalties for violations can include monetary fines and additional compensation owed to the affected employees.

Employers must understand and follow the California 4-Hour Minimum Pay Law to avoid potential penalties and maintain compliance with state regulations.


So now that you know about California’s 4-Hour Minimum Pay Law, make sure you understand your rights under this law, and don’t hesitate to speak up if you feel your employer isn’t complying. Stay informed and protect your rights!

Related: 7 Tips for Success When Working in Non-English Speaking Environments

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