Split Shift California Laws: Your Ultimate Resource

September 25, 2022

Have you ever heard of the term "Split Shift” in California? If you are an employee in the Golden State, this is something you should definitely be aware of. It's a unique aspect of California labor law that can impact your paycheck.

In this article, we will dive deep into split shifts, breaking down what it means, how it affects you as an employee, and what you need to know to make sure you are getting fair compensation.

Understanding Split Shifts in California

Let's start by discussing the concept of split shifts in the context of California’s work regulations to gain a better understanding of how they operate and what they entail for the workforce.

What is a Split Shift?

A split shift is a work schedule that's not your typical nine-to-five. It involves dividing your workday into two distinct parts, with a break in between. For example, you might work from 8 AM to 12 PM, have a few hours off, and then return to work from 4 PM to 8 PM.

The break between shifts cannot be a meal or rest break and must be to the benefit of the employer. If you request the break for your own convenience, then it is not a split shift

The Split Shift Premium

Now, here's where it gets interesting. In California, employers are required to pay employees a split shift premium of 1 hour at minimum wage if they are subjected to this type of schedule and

the total wages earned do not exceed the applicable minimum wage for all hours worked, plus one additional hour at minimum wage.

Who is Eligible for the Premium?

To qualify, you must meet specific criteria. First, you must be employed by the same company for the entire split shift. Secondly, your shifts must be more than an hour apart. Third, the split shift must be a mandatory part of your employment, not something you volunteered for. Lastly, your earnings do not exceed minimum wage for all hours worked plus one additional hour at minimum wage.

When is the Premium Due?

The split shift premium is due on your next paycheck following when you worked the split shift. It should be listed as a separate item on your paystub and not lumped in with the other hours worked. You are entitled to this additional compensation, regardless of the duration of your employment.

The split shift premium has no impact or effect on overtime or your regular rate of pay.

Recognizing the nuances of split shifts in California is of utmost importance for both employees and employers, as it ensures compliance with state regulations and guarantees fair compensation for those whose workdays are divided.

How to Calculate Your Split Shift Premium

If you are located in California and want to know how to accurately calculate the Split Shift Premium for which you are qualified, follow the steps that are outlined below.

Step 1: Begin by identifying the current minimum wage rate in California, or the minimum wage rate in your local area (if it differs).

Step 2: Compare this with your regular hourly rate of pay.

Step 3: Calculate the premium for each split shift by using the minimum wage rate. Multiply this rate by one hour.

Let's illustrate this with an example:

  • Minimum wage rate: $15 per hour
  • Your regular hourly rate of pay: $16 per hour

Assuming you work a total of 8 hours between both shifts in one day, you are entitled to an hour of premium pay at the minimum wage rate ($15)

  • At your regular rate of pay, $16 x 8 hours = $128
  • With the potential split shift premium, it would be calculated as $15 x 8 hours = $120, + the 1 hour of split shift premium pay at minimum wage ($15) = $135

Whichever total is higher is what is owed, so the employer would owe $135 in this case. If the employee’s hourly pay rate earned them more than what they would earn with the additional split shift premium, then their employer does not owe them a split shift premium.

Having this information at your disposal will give you the confidence to stand up for your rights in the workplace and deal with any anomalies head-on.

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The Perks and Pitfalls of Split Shifts

Split shifts come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Below is a breakdown of the notable perks and pitfalls associated with this type of work arrangement.

The Perks

  • Additional Income: One of the most tangible rewards of a split shift is the extra pay received through the Split Shift Premium, compensating for the unconventional work hours.
  • Enhanced Flexibility: This type of schedule can be advantageous for individuals with personal or familial obligations during conventional work hours, offering them the flexibility they need.
  • Routine Disruption: On the flip side, split shifts can interfere with one’s daily schedule and personal life, making it challenging to maintain a consistent routine.
  • Potential for Fatigue: The extended break between work periods can lead to a drop in energy levels, potentially hindering one’s ability to stay focused and productive throughout the workday.
  • Limited Personal Time: Given the schedule demands of working split shifts, the amount of time available for meals, relaxation, and other personal activities may be more limited than usual.

The Pitfalls

While split shifts offer certain financial and logistical benefits, they are not without their challenges, and it's essential to weigh these factors before committing to such a schedule.

Employee Rights Concerning Split Shifts

Now, let's shift our focus to what matters most – your rights as an employee in California. The Golden State has some robust labor laws in place to protect workers, and split shift is no exception. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

Adequate Compensation

You must verify that you receive the requisite Split Shift Premium, as stipulated by the labor laws in California. Your employer bears the legal responsibility to furnish you with this additional remuneration.

Clear Documentation

Constantly monitor your work timings and corresponding pay records. The Split Shift Premium should be distinctly marked on your pay slip. If any anomalies arise, it's advisable to consult with your employer or the human resources team.

Overtime Considerations

If your split shift results in overtime hours, you are entitled to the usual overtime pay in addition to the Split Shift Premium. It's important to understand how your hours are calculated to ensure you are compensated fairly.

Being well-informed about your rights and entitlements as an employee is paramount. Make sure you stand up for your rights and seek the compensation you deserve when working split shifts.

a person using a laptop while writing notes

Informed Decision-Making in Split Shift Cases

When it comes to split shifts, you still have a say as an employee, and it is important to know your rights. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Communicate with Your Employer

Engage in transparent and assertive conversations with your employer regarding your work schedule. Addressing any questions or concerns promptly can prevent potential misunderstandings and foster a positive work environment.

Know Your Options

If you find split shifts challenging, don’t hesitate to discuss alternative scheduling arrangements with your employer. There may be flexibility to accommodate your preferences and requirements.

Keep Records

Keeping accurate records of your work hours, schedules, and pay slips is a prudent practice. This information serves as a reliable reference in the event that you need to resolve any discrepancies.

Seek Legal Advice

Again, protecting your rights is paramount. Should you suspect a violation of California labor laws related to split shifts, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel or reach out to labor authorities for assistance and guidance.

You will be able to protect your entitlements better and strive toward attaining a work-life balance that will encourage a fairer and open-minded working environment if you put the foregoing into action.

Split Shift Confusions? Let Freeburg & Granieri Clear Them Up!

Are you experiencing difficulties related to split shifts in California? Don't go through it alone! Turn to the experienced legal team at Freeburg & Granieri, your trusted partner for handling employment law matters.

Whether you are uncertain about your Split Shift Premium or feel your employer might not adhere to the state's labor laws, our professionals are here to provide guidance and robust representation.

The law is on your side, and so are we! Book a FREE consultation today, and let us guarantee that your rights as an employee in California are unequivocally upheld.


In the world of employment in California, understanding split shifts is a valuable asset for every worker. It ensures that you are compensated fairly when faced with the inconvenience of a split shift schedule.

Remember, your rights as an employee are protected by law, and you have the means to take action if your employer fails to comply with the regulations. So, stay informed, know your rights, and advocate for fair treatment in the workplace.


Can I negotiate my Split Shift Premium rate with my employer?

The Split Shift Premium rate is determined by law, and your employer cannot negotiate it with you. It should be paid according to the established guidelines.

Are there any exceptions to the Split Shift Premium for specific industries?

Yes, some industries, like healthcare, may have exceptions regarding the Split Shift Premium. It's essential to understand the specific rules that apply to your job.

Is there a time limit for seeking compensation for split shift violations?

The statute of limitations for seeking compensation for split shift violations can vary, but it's advisable to take action promptly if you believe your rights have been infringed.


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