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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37834
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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Im a manager of a small company in CA...I oversee approx 10

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I'm a manager of a small company in CA...I oversee approx 10 employees. Basically, some of my guys, with the type of work they do are sometimes very busy, and sometimes have no work whatsoever. what I need to know is if I'm allowed to send them home without pay...and to take it even further, let's say I know I will have no work for them for the next two weeks, can I basically say don't come into work and they obviously won't get paid? My common sense tells me there are limitation to that, but I don't know what they are....and how that relates to 'full-time' status.

Just to be clear, I am talking about full time employees who are paid on an hourly basis.
Good morning,

I'm Doug, and I'm sorry to hear of the confusion. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

There is no law preventing you from telling your employees not to come into work if there is no work for them to do. That is your legal right. If they lose too much income because this occurs frequently, they will be able to apply for partial unemployment benefits though.

The real issue is when you schedule them to come to work for say 8 hours, or even 4 hours, and send them home early. You may have to pay them additional wages in that circumstance above what they earned per hour that day. This is known as Reporting Time Pay.

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 employee must be paid for half the 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.

As an example, if an employee is scheduled to report to work for an eight-hour shift and comes in, but you sent them home after just 1 hour because of lack of work, the you still must pay the employee four hours of pay at their rate of pay (one for the hour worked, and three as reporting time pay).

The law does not define full time status. That is left to the employer. While most employers define full time as more than 36 hours worked in a workweek, a company is free to make that number 40, or even 30. Full time status is typically important for qualification for certain benefits, and because those benefits are not mandated by the state, the employer determines the amount of hours needed to qualify for the benefits.

You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you need any clarification of my answer.

Please remember to rate my service to you when our communication is completed, so that I will be compensated for my time in providing you with the information you requested. I will be happy to continue further, and to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in 2013,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Doug...very informative. So, let me see if I have this correct....I could basically tell them to take the month off, that's within my right, but it would then be within their rights to file for partial unemployment?


Also, I understand what you are saying about having to pay for partial time...for example if they come in for an 8-hour shift, I send them home after 1 hour, but they will then get paid for 4 hours...correct? With that said, what if after 4 hours, I tell them to take the rest of the day they then get paid for more than 4 hours? Hope I explained that clearly...

Hi Tim,

Well, telling them they have a month off would qualify them for full unemployment benefits, not just partial. But yes, you may legally do that if your business needs dictate it.

So long as they have worked the greater of 2 hours, or half of their scheduled shift, you may sent them home without additional pay. Is is only if you want to send them home before they have worked half their shift---or 2 hours---whichever is greater---that a problem occurs.

You may reply back to me again, using the Reply to Expert link, if you have additional questions.

Thank you for your kind words. They are appreciated. Please keep in mind that until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be credited with helping you.

Thanks again.

Have a great day,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Ok, so at what point then do they qualify for 'full unemployment benefits'?

Hi Tim,

Partial unemployment is meant to make up the difference between what they would earn on full unemployment (about 60% of wages) and what they are making working for the employer.

Technically they could work 3 hours a week and still collect partial unemployment. However, once you get to the point where they are only earning about half of their normal wages, they will have the right to quit, and still qualify for full unemployment while they look for a new job elsewhere.

Full unemployment is paid when there is no work available, or when because of the lack of work, they have a good justification to resign and take unemployment.

You may reply back to me again, using the Reply to Expert link, if you have additional questions.

I wish you the best in your future,

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Doug, what does the law say about 'demoting' a full-time status employee to a 'freelance' status?


Are there any problems related to doing that?

Good afternoon Tim,

As you may not be aware, the Rules of JustAnswer specify that each customer ask one question in each question thread. For new questions, the customer is asked to open a new question thread. I am required to ask that you place these new questions in a new thread, as is required by JustAnswer. I do sincerely XXXXX XXXXX any inconvenience this might cause you.

You may ask for me personally by referring to me by name (Doug) in your new question and I will be able to assist you. As the questions that you are posing are new, I am required to ask you to please open up a new question thread for them. When you ask your new question, be sure to define what you mean by "freelance" as that is not a legal term of art. Do you mean independent contractor? Thank you for your understanding,