What is Nonproductive Time?
Nick Ferraro | July 28, 2022 | Wage and Hour
California has a strong history of protecting worker’s rights. Employees who work on a piece-rate basis must be paid at least minimum wage for their nonproductive time, including rest breaks.
If you’re a San Diego worker who’s employer isn’t paying you correctly. You have legal options at your disposal. Speak with a trusted employment lawyer today to take action.
Under the California Labor Code, nonproductive time can fall under different categories:
- Rest and recovery periods
- Other time under the employer’s direct control where the employee is not doing something directly related to the activity being compensated on a piece-rate basis
Before we go too far, let’s also define piece-rate. This type of compensation is popular in many industries to incentivize employee productivity. It also gives employers more control over their labor costs.
If you’re paid piece-rate, you’re paid a fixed sum of money for each action taken or item made. This rate is paid to you regardless of how much time it took you to do the work.
Common industries where you see piece-rate pay include:
- Data entry
- Cable installation
Piece-rate pay has its positives for workers, too. If you can increase your output, you can effectively increase your pay. For example, if you’re an auto mechanic who’s paid a flat $10 rate for each oil change you complete, the more oil changes you can do in one hour, the more you make per hour.
Employers still have to ensure you make at least the California minimum wage, however. So they’re required to pay you even if you’re not actively changing a car’s oil. This is nonproductive time.
Employers cannot lump nonproductive and productive time together to determine if you have been paid at least minimum wage. This means that employers must pay employees at least the California minimum wage for each hour of nonproductive time, separately from any piece-rate pay you may receive.
Notice above that the labor code makes a distinction between rest and recovery periods and nonproductive time. Rest and recovery periods must be paid at either your average hourly rate or the California minimum wage, whichever is greater. This gets complex for employers to ensure they’re paying employees the right amount and mistakes are easily made.
California Wage and Hour Violations
Regardless of whether a mistake is made honestly or intentionally, employees have protections under California law. Employers who pay you a piece-rate must also pay you for rest and breaks, if your piece-rate pay does not average to California’s minimum wage.
This creates problems for employers who utilize these types of pay plans. They could be on the hook for fines and penalties relating to each unpaid rest break or underpaid nonproductive time.
Suppose your employer isn’t
- Paying you at least minimum wage for all hours worked
- Paying you properly for rest and recovery periods
- Paying you daily and weekly overtime,
- Giving you accurate and timely wage statements
You may have a claim against them for a wage and hour violation. You can attempt to hold them accountable and recover damages and back pay.
Speak with a San Diego Employment Lawyer to Protect Your Rights
You have many rights as an employee in San Diego, California. If your employer has violated your rights, you have legal options to hold them accountable and collect compensation. Speak with the experienced employment lawyers at Ferraro Vega today.