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October 10, 2019

No Reporting Time Pay Required When Power is Disrupted by Public Utilities

As has been reported, PG&E and other California utilities have implemented power outages intended to mitigate wildfire risk caused by downed power lines due to excessive wind conditions.

The IWC Wage Orders for packing/processing (Wage Orders 8 and 13) and agricultural employees (Wage Order 14) state that if an employee is required to report for work at a scheduled time, and does, but is not put to work or works less than half of his/her usual day, that employee will receive reporting time pay (Section 5).

This pay must be one-half the normal hours worked at the regular rate for that employee and will be a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 4 hours. If an employee is required to report for work a second time, and works less than 2 hours, the employee will be paid for 2 hours at his/her regular rate of pay, which must be no less than the minimum wage.

However, this requirement is waived if the reason for stopping work is due to public utilities failing to supply electricity; is at the recommendation of civil authorities; when employees’ or the employer’s property is threatened; or due to an Act of God, or other causes not within the employer’s control. (Mechanical failures are not deemed to be outside the employer’s control.)

Employers are reminded that they must pay employees for all time worked prior to, or time waiting to work due to, an Act of God or other work disruption. Employees must be completely released from their workplace obligations, meaning that they cannot be told to wait in a specific place or for a specific amount of time, without the employer incurring the requirement to pay standby time wages.