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Split Shift in California
(Benefits And Definition Explained)

A “split shift” in California is a work schedule that is interrupted by non-paid and non-working time periods established by the employer. An example of a split shift is a restaurant worker who works from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and then returns at 4:00 p.m. to work the dinner shift.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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What are the Rules of a Split Shift?

California laws dictate that the time period between split shifts must be longer than a meal period, and both shifts need to take place within the same workday. The break between shifts cannot be a meal or rest break and must be to the benefit of the employer. If an employee requests the break for their own reasons, this is not considered a split shift.

Related Article: How Many Breaks in a 5 Hour Shift?

What is a Split Shift Premium?

Under the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order, workers who earn minimum wage are entitled to additional pay known as a “split shift premium” when their schedule includes a split shift. The premium is equal to one hour of pay at the rate of the minimum wage.

An employee who makes more than minimum wage may also be due a split shift premium; however, the greater the wage the lower the premium will be. Also, employees who reside at their place of employment are exempt from the split shift premium.

Related ArticleDo I Have an Overtime Wage Dispute Lawsuit?

Who is Entitled to the Premium?

You may be entitled to a split shift premium if your employer schedules you for a split shift and you:

  • Are a non-exempt worker,
  • Make close to the minimum wage, and
  • Do not live at the place of employment.

This means that you are not entitled to the premium if:

  • Your regular hourly pay is high enough that your employer does not have to supplement it with the required premium,
  • You voluntarily picked up a shift that was split from your own, rather than your employer assigning it to you, or
  • You took an extra-long lunch break, meal period, or rest break.

What are the Benefits of Working a Split Shift?

Studies have found that long work hours and productivity have an inverse relationship, meaning that employees become less productive the longer they work.

This is why breaking up hours into a split shift can help alleviate employee stress, fatigue and burnout. Happier and healthier employees may lead to boosted productivity, lower absenteeism rates, and better overall workplace culture.

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