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Forced Unpaid Time-Off: California

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  • Forced Unpaid Time-Off: California

    I'm really hoping someone can help me find the legal regulations on this topic:

    I work on a part-time basis with a set schedule of 24 hours a week. I budget my expenses based on this regular income, as I'm sure many of my co-workers do, some of whom this is their only source of income and work up to 37.5 hours a week.

    On Monday of this week, my boss disclosed to me that for certain transitions and budget-setting requirements occuring on the manager level, they will need to force the regular employees out of their shifts for one week at a time to have employees from other company accounts to come in and create an unbiased, baseline income. This is understandable and reasonable.

    What is unreasonable is that this is to commence starting next Monday, 7 days after being disclosed to me, and 3-6 days being disclosed to the other employees, depending on when they are regularly scheduled. If an employee has qualified for "paid time off" and accrued some hours, they may use it, or just take the days off as unpaid vacation time. Myself and many others do not qualify for paid time off, nor were we given the choice to participate in this "forced vacation." Other shifts may be available at other locations/accounts, but there is no guarantee that an equal number of hours will be available to account for all of the employees normal schedules.

    My opinion is that one of three things should be happening:
    1) Ample notice of this occurence should have been provided so that the employess could budget their income and expenses accordingly. Perhaps at least 30 days.
    2) Alternative schedules at the other locations or accounts should be adequately provided and scheduled for us in place of our regular ones to be taken over so that equal normal pay is earned.
    3) Compensation should be paid for the time that we normally work, or at least for the amount of hours that we do not cover with shifts at other locations.

    Just imagine: your boss says to you "don't come in next week and we're not going to pay you." Wouldn't you be a little worried about your personal expenses? I forgot to mention: this is a company that gives us paid holidays. Their explanation for this is: it's not the employee's decision that we are closed, therefore, you would be here to work and earn money if you could.

    To me, this decision was also not our choice, and therefore we should be compensated.

    Anyone who can point we in the right direction to a California regulation or some law that shows if this is legal for the company to do or not, or if they are simply going about it the wrong way, the information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help!

    Last edited by C_Curtis; 10-08-2008, 09:32 AM.

  • #2
    First off, Christa, I've edited out your e-mail address for your own protection. We've been getting some pretty nasty spammers on this site recently and trust me, you do not want them collecting your address.

    There is no regulation in CA (or any other state) that addresses this directly. The fact of the matter is, barring a contract or CBA that specifically says otherwise, they may schedule you for as many or as few hours as they wish; there is no requirement that you receive any particular amount of notice and unless you are exempt, which it does not sound as if you are, you have no legal expectation of being paid when you do not work.

    I completely understand your position but based on what you have shared, your employer is not violating any state or Federal regulations.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


    • #3
      Verbal agreement

      Thank you for your quick response.

      I've been here for three years so I can't recall all the paperwork I signed when I was originally hired, but I'm pretty sure a contract for the hours I was scheduled for was signed, nor has been updated as my schedule has changed over time.

      Does a verbal agreement for the set schedule between myself and my superviser hold any weight as a contract?


      • #4
        Anything is possible I guess. Not all agreements are legally enforceable contracts, and the lack of anything in writing makes proving the existence of an enforceable contract difficult. Past that contracts by legal definition are a "something for something" exchange. You are claiming that the employer contracted with you and that the employer agreed to never-ever reduce your hours for any reason. The judge will want to know what you gave up in exchange for this.

        I am going to include a pointer to the CA-DLSE manual and suggest that you read the section on contracts. Any arguments you make to a court will have to address the issues raised here.
        "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
        Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


        • #5
          If you are laid off from work, even temporarily, you should file for unemployment benefits. I'm not sure what the waiting period is for u/c in CA (if any) but if it's shorter than the period you're out of work, it would be worth filing a claim.

          I can understand your frustration with the short notice, but remember none of us are guaranteed a job at any time - whether it's next week, next month, or next year.

          If you had some kind of personal emergency that kept you from working next week, you'd be in the same financial pickle, and you wouldn't have a week's advance notice and unemployment benefits either. So, it's always best to have a plan B (savings account, second job/source of income, etc) just in case.

          You always have the right to consult an attorney, but I don't see anything obviously illegal in the situation you described.
          I am a human resources professional, not an attorney. This is my opinion based on the limited facts presented and is not legal advice.


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