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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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My wife is a piano teacher in a studio and is paid by the half

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My wife is a piano teacher in a studio and is paid by the half hour lesson. There are two types of students, paid up monthly and charter school paid only if taught. The employer does not pay teachers if the student calls in at the last minute as a cancel leaving the teacher stranded and wasting that time. Since they are employees and not contractors, what are their rights. Also, they are not afforded break and lunch time since the lesson calendar is booked straight through for 5 hours. Are the teachers required by law to have breaks and lunch at specified intervals? This is Stockton California
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question.

Assuming that your wife is an employee and not an independent contractor, her employer may be liable for what is known in California as "reporting time pay" on days where she is sent home without work.

More specifically, California's IWC Wage Orders provide that each workday an employee is required to report to work but is not put to work or is furnished with less than half of his or her usual or scheduled day's work, the employer must pay half of the employee's usual or scheduled day's work, but in no event for less than two hours nor more than four hours, at his or her regular rate of pay.

For example, if an employer sends home an employee who was scheduled to work an 8 hour shift after just one hour, the employee would be entitled to 4 hours of pay.

Only employees who are not exempt from overtime requirements are eligible for reporting time pay.

For a more full explanation of the reporting pay requirements and exceptions, this visit link: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_reportingtimepay.htm

In regard to lunches and rest breaks, California law provides that an employer may not employ a worker for a period of more than five hours at a time without providing the worker with a meal period of not less than thirty minutes, except that if the total work period per day of the employee is no more than six hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and employee. (Labor Code Section 512.) So, if your wife's shifts are only five hours, she would not be entitled to a lunch, but a shift any longer than that she would be entitled to one.

In regard to rest breaks, which are different than meal periods, California law requires employers to "authorize and permit" nonexempt employees to take a PAID rest period that should, to the extent practicable, be taken in the middle of the employee's shift. An employee is entitled to take a rest period of no less than 10 minutes for each 4 hour period of work, or major fraction thereof. So, provided your wife's shift is at least 4 hours and she is an employee, she would be entitled to a paid 10 minute rest break.

If your wife's employer refuses to provide her with reporting time, meal periods and/or rest breaks, it would generally be wise to file a claim with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement. To file a claim with the DLSE, visit this link: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/howtofilewageclaim.htm

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the best.

My greatest concern is that you are satisfied with the answer I provide, so please do not hesitate to contact me with follow-up questions. Although I cannot always provide good news, I hope that my answer gives you a better understanding of the law and your rights so that you can obtain the best possible result under the circumstances. Also, please bear in mind that experts are not credited for unaccepted answers, so I greatly appreciate you taking the time to "accept" my answer and leave positive feedback.

Finally, none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 7650
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
One final concern; regarding students who pay ahead by the month and are afforded makeup lessons if called in sick at least 30 min before the lesson. If they are just a no-show the employer has chosen to not pay the teacher inspite of the fact that the studio is still receiving the funds for the lesson. Is this a legal problem of not being paid for no-shows when the funds are already received?
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
"Is this a legal problem of not being paid for no-shows when the funds are already received?"

No, I don't think so because as an employee, your wife would be entitled only to compenstion for hours worked (of course with the reporting time exception mentioned above). The fact that a particular client has already paid is not relevant to the question of whether hours were or were not worked and no special right to payment arises where a client pays his or her own fee in advance.

Again, my number one goal is that you are satisfied with my answer. If you are, I would greatly appreciate your "accept." If you still require further clarification, I am happy to continue assisting you.

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Patrick, Esq.
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