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How do you know whether you have a valid wage claim?

Whether you work a standard business day and have evenings and weekends off or work rotating, longer shifts in a high-demand field like medicine, making an hourly wage means that you only get paid for the time that you work.

Unlike salaried workers, you cannot count on a specific level of income every week because what you earn reflects how many hours you were on the job. Still, you have the right under California law to receive payment for every minute of time that you work.

Some companies try to squeeze uncompensated labor out of their hourly staff members by requiring that they do certain tasks off the clock or during their personal time. Can your company expect you to respond to text messages and emails without compensation?

The circumstances dictate your options in a wage claim

The law in California entitles workers to compensation for all of the time that they provide services for their employer. Employees have previously brought successful claims under California law against companies that made them clock out before inspecting and locking up a retail establishment.

Since those job tasks were a regular part of the work required of certain employees, it was determined that the company unfairly withheld multiple minutes of compensation for work done at the end of a day. Over time, that could turn out to be dozens of hours of unpaid wages for staff members closing up. While a one-time situation where someone clocked out and then did five minutes of work likely be grounds for a claim, consistent unpaid work requirements could.

You can apply that same standard to dealing with emails and text messages. If your employer occasionally reaches out to you on your day off to advise you of an upcoming meeting or a change to the schedule, that likely isn’t grounds for a wage claim. However, if they expect you to spend the whole weekend answering client calls and emails without pay, that could be a violation of your right to a fair hourly wage.

If you believe that you have cause for a wage claim against your employer, you may want to talk with an experienced employment law attorney. They can provide valuable guidance.


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