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Labor Law Information Resource Center
Split Shifts

What is a 'Split Shift'?

A number of states around the country have rules governing what is known as a “split shift.” In CA, the Industrial Welfare Commission (Wage Order No. 4, Section 2) defines a split shift as one that occurs when an employee works two separate shifts separated by more than a one-hour meal period.

The IWC further stipulates that if there is more than one hour of time between shifts, the employee must receive one hour’s pay at no less than the minimum wage rate for this time between shifts. Such hours/schedules are common in the food and beverage industry, amongst others.

If the time between shifts is just an hour, the employee ordinarily takes this as an unpaid lunch break. If the time between shifts is longer than one hour, the employee is entitled to receive an hour’s pay at no less than the minimum wage rate for this time period (Example 1).

An employee that earns more than minimum wage can offset the split shift pay requirement, in part or in full. (Examples 2 & 3), meaning such employees will receive little or no split shift pay.

Example 1

➮ Hourly wage: $10 (minimum wage in CA)

➮ Shift: 10 A – 2 P, 4 P – 8 P (8 total hours on clock)

➮ Split shift wage applied: $10/hour

➮ Time between shifts: 2 hours, one of which is an unpaid meal break, the other as split shift pay

➮ Compensation due to this employee:

8 hours of regular pay = $80
1 hour split shift pay = $10
Total: $90

Example 2

Hourly wage: $10.75 ($.75 above CA min wage)

Shift: 10 A – 2 P, 4 P – 8 P (8 total hours on clock)

Split shift wage applied: $10/hour

Time between shifts: 2 hours, one of which is an unpaid meal break, the other as split shift pay

Offset: $.75 X 8 hours = $6.00. Split shift wage is partially offset: $10 - $6 = $4

Compensation due to this employee:

8 hours of regular pay at $10.75 = $86.00
Offset split shift pay = $4
Total: $90

Example 3

➮ Hourly wage: $11.50 ($1.50 above CA min wage)

➮ Shift: 10 A – 2 P, 4 P – 8 P (8 total hours on clock)

➮ Split shift wage applied: $10/hour

➮ Time between shifts: 2 hours, one of which is an unpaid meal break, the other does not qualify for split shift pay.

➮ Offset: $1.50 X 8 hours = $12.00, which exceeds the split shift wage the employer would be required to pay, so the employee is not entitled to split shift pay for that day.

➮ Compensation due to this employee:

8 hours of regular pay
at $11.50 = $92.00
Total: $92

Additional details regarding split shifts:

  • Split shift pay does not apply if the employee lives at their place of employment.
  • Split shift pay does not count as overtime pay (OT) because it is not compensation for hours actually worked.
  • Employers must keep time records showing when the employee begins & ends each work period. Meal periods, split shift intervals, and total daily hours worked shall be recorded.
  • If an employee initiates a break in his or her work schedule for personal reasons (for example, to accommodate childcare or personal business), that interruption is not considered a split shift since the break was not established by the employer.
Information Sources:
LCW, Labor, Employment & Education Law Experts
DIVISION OF LABOR STANDARDS ENFORCEMENT (DLSE) Enforcement Policies and Interpretations Manual
California Restaurant Association
San Francisco Employment Law Attorney Blog

How Shift2Work Can Help

Shift2Work has the simple solution for recording 'Split Shift Pay':

  • Within Shift2Work you can activate the split shift option to automatically calculate and add the hours needed for follow the split shift law. Split shift time is not included in the overtime calculation.
  • Split Shift requires a special earning code to import into your payroll software with the minimum wage rate of $10 per hour (CA).

What employers should do:

Communication of company policy is key. Employees should be made aware of their options and responsibilities in this regard.

Consider doing the following:

  • Provide employees with a written company policy manual.
  • Thoroughly explain its contents in a new employee “orientation meeting.”
  • Have employees sign and date a receipt for this manual, certifying that they have read & understand it. Keep the receipt in company personnel files.
  • Regularly discuss company policies about this issue and others in weekly/monthly staff meetings

Contact Us by Phone: 405-823-4842 or Email: Service (at) Shift2Work (dot) com

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