The U.S. Department of Labor does not differentiate between part-time employees and full-time employees and does not provide a definition of “part-time” employment. Each state may enact its own definition. In California, the Division of Labor Enforcement requires employers to pay all of their employees at least the state minimum wage and provide them with lunch and breaks, as necessary. Employers must also comply with existing state and federal safety and occupational hazard regulations.
Mandatory Break Laws
California requires employers to provide their employees with paid breaks. The Department of Labor does not require employers to provide their employees with paid breaks, however, and states can enact their own break laws. The federal government requires employers to provide unpaid or paid breaks to minors, and mandates payment for discretionary breaks not exceeding 20 minutes. In California, employers must provide all of their employees with a paid 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked. Employers do not have to provide their employees with paid rest breaks if they work less than 3.5 hours.
Mandatory Lunch Breaks
California employers must provide their employees with at least 30 minutes to eat during the workday if they work at least five hours. Employers must provide their employees with the ability to take their lunch breaks off-site or must compensate them for their lunch breaks; they do not have to allow their employees to go off-site during their breaks, since they are paid for these rest breaks. Part-time and full-time employees who work at night must have access to hot food vendors or areas to cook their food. Employers who require their employees to stay on-site must provide them with areas to clean their hands.
Minimum Pay Requirement
California has laws that apply to part-time employees sent home during the day because of a lack of available or suitable work. California employers must pay their part-time employees for at least half of their scheduled hours on days they send them home. Employers must pay their employees for at least two hours of work, but generally do not have to pay them for more than four hours of work for time not worked. Employers who send their employees home to avoid injuries from extenuating weather or work-related emergencies do not have to pay their employees for time not worked.
Part-Time Hourly Pay
Employers must also pay their part-time employees for any time they are required to wait for work at the employer’s place of business. Employers who require their employees to stay on-site in case there is any available work must pay them for their entire on-site time. California’s minimum hourly wage is $8.00, current as of March 2011. All employees must receive at least minimum wage per hour.
Since employment laws frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division's Frequently Asked Questions
- California Department of Industrial Relations: Minimum Wage
- California Department of Industrial Relations: Meal Periods
- California Department of Industrial Relations: Reporting Time Pay
- California Department of Industrial Relations: Rest Periods/Lactation Accommodation
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