California workers may sometimes be required to work a split shift. The term “split shift” refers to a work schedule that includes an unpaid break period that is longer than the usual lunch or rest period. Under California law, workers who work a split shift may be entitled to additional pay.
For your work shift to qualify as a split shift, you must work both shifts in the same workday. You only qualify for the additional pay if you do not choose to work the split shifts but are required to work them by your employer.
Split shifts make sense for some industries
Split shifts are common in industries such as the restaurant industry. Many restaurants open over the lunch hour, close for the afternoon and open again for a few hours at dinnertime.
If you work both the lunch and dinner shifts, with the afternoon off, you are working a split shift. If you volunteer to take the dinner shift, but are not required to, you will not receive a split shift premium.
California law requires that workers receive additional pay when working a split shift. This pay is called a split shift premium. A split shift premium is calculated at one hour at the state or local minimum wage, whichever is higher.
Working a split shift can be tough. You may find it hard to get enough sleep, take care of errands or other tasks, or maintain a consistent schedule.
Why you are entitled to a split shift premium
California’s split shift law is designed to compensate workers for the inconvenience of working a split shift. If your employer wants or needs its employees to do split shifts, they must pay them the premium.
You are not responsible for keeping track of your shifts and calculating when you should be paid a split shift premium and how much. Those are responsibilities of your employer.
Split shifts are often necessary to keep a business running. Employers and workers should understand the split shift laws, so employers can properly comply with them, and workers receive accurate wages.