Reporting Time Pay: When It’s Owed Depends on Circumstances

Sarah Woolston

My employee showed up for her shift in the wrong safety equipment, then later went home sick after clocking in for 30 minutes. Do I owe her “reporting time pay”?

“Reporting time pay” is a type of wages owed to employees in two situations.

  • First, when an employee reports to work as scheduled, but their employer cancels the shift or offers them less than half the hours for which they were scheduled or usually work. The amount due in this situation is at least half the hours for which the employee was scheduled or usually worked at the employee’s regular rate of pay, but it is never less than two hours pay and never more than four hours pay.
  • Second, reporting time pay is triggered when an employee is required to report to work a second time in any one workday and is given less than two hours of work on the second reporting. In this situation, the employee is owed reporting time pay for the difference between the hours worked and the two-hour minimum.


Employers are excused from paying reporting time pay when:

  • Operations cannot begin due to threats to the business or property, or when recommended by civil authority;
  • Public utilities fail, such as water, gas, electricity, or sewer;
  • Work is interrupted by an act of God or other causes not within the employer’s control; and
  • An employee is on a paid standby status then called to work at times other than their usual shift.

Failure to wear proper safety equipment or being sent home sick are not exemptions from the reporting time pay rules.

Opportunity to Work

That said, the Department of Industrial Relations clarifies reporting time pay is required only when the employer deprived the employee of the opportunity to work. If an employee went home sick based on their own volition, or even just left for a personal matter — they are not entitled to reporting time pay.

If an employer sends an employee home because they are in the wrong safety equipment, however, or even sends them home because the employee is sick, then the employer is depriving the employee of the opportunity to work and none of the above exceptions will apply either, so reporting time pay would be due.

For this employer, whether reporting time pay is due will depend upon this distinction.

For purposes of discussion, let’s assume that the employer chose to send the employee home immediately for the safety equipment issue.

Company Policy

Although the employee will be entitled to reporting time pay, this does not mean the employer cannot address the situation. The employer can discipline her for violating company policy.

If you have a policy on what safety equipment is required, like steel-toed boots for example, and an employee fails to abide by it and shows up in flip flops, you can — and probably should — discipline her.

Ensure your policy includes what consequences will result from repeated violations of your uniform and safety policies. Reporting time pay is nuanced and should be handled carefully by your business.

Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred members and above. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at