While there has yet to be any official legal action to put it into IWC Wage Order, a recent update to the terminology regarding split shift premiums on the California Labor Commissioner’s Office website has many preparing for just such a change to take place in the near future.

A split shift being the term used to describe a workday with a gap longer than one hour between those spent working – a shift from 8:00-12:00 and then 4:00-6:00 that same day, for example – under current wage law, employers are required to pay an additional hour’s worth of work as a premium, that is equivalent to at least the state minimum wage.

However, with the recent change to the Labor Commissioner’s Office interpretation, that premium rate could expand to include paying the highest between the state or local minimum wage – thus potentially increasing an employee’s earnings on a split shift, depending on what the local minimum wage is.

To provide an example of what should be given to an employee after working a split shift, the Labor Commissioner’s Office provides the following case study:

Question: “My regular workday includes a split shift, however, I make $12 per hour and minimum wage is currently $11 per hour. I work six total hours in a workday, so am I entitled to a split shift premium?”

Answer: “Yes, because you work six hours, and the minimum wage for your workday that includes a split shift is $77 (six hours times $11 plus an additional $11 for the split shift premium). If you are only paid $72 (six hours times $12), you are due $5 ($77 – $72 = $5) differential for working a split shift.”

Regardless of whether this updated interpretation makes it into IWC Wage Code, employers are still encouraged to seek legal counsel on what they should be paying their employees now.

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