Non-Productive Time: Facts you should know

The state of California has a long history of upholding workers’ rights. Piece-rate workers must be compensated for all non-productive time, such as rest breaks, at least at the minimum wage set by the government. Under a piece-rate plan, an employee receives a fixed sum of money for each manufactured item or task that is done. Piece rate is employed throughout a wide range of sectors, including call centres, manufacturing, trucking, and car repair. Two examples of piece-rate arrangements are a factory worker who receives payment based on the number of widgets produced or an auto mechanic who is paid a certain sum per tune-up.

California employers must make sure they abide by California law because piece-rate law under the California Labor Code and piece-rate law under the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are two different things. If you want to discover more about what is non-productive time, keep reading.

What does non-productive time mean?

Non-productive time can be categorised in a few different ways under the California Labor Code:

Rest and restoration times
Other times under the direct supervision of the employer where the worker is not engaged in work that is being paid on a piece rate basis.

When you are paid a piece rate, you receive a set amount of money for each action you take or product you produce. You will still be paid this fee, no matter how long it took you to complete the assignment.
Let’s define the piece rate as well. Many sectors use this kind of remuneration to reward staff productivity. Furthermore, it provides companies with more control over the cost of their labour.

Companies are not allowed to combine productive and unproductive time when determining whether you were paid at least the minimum wage. This means that regardless of any piece-rate compensation you may receive, employers are required to pay employees at least the California minimum wage for each hour of unproductive time.

Employers can comply with California’s piece-rate law by using the following suggestions.

Be sure to pay workers the minimum wage for all hours worked

Every employer has a responsibility to guarantee that workers are paid the minimum wage for all hours worked. Every hour worked in California must be compensated with the minimum wage. While piece-rate workers typically earn more than the minimum wage, employers must make sure that they are paid separately for non-productive time, which includes time spent on tasks that do not qualify for piece-rate pay. Examples of non-productive time include time spent getting to and from job sites, loading or maintaining vehicles, attending meetings, time spent training, etc. Employers are required to pay piece rate workers at least the minimum wage for any time they are directed to do something that prevents them from earning piece rate, such as attending a meeting.

Don’t forget to pay workers for rest and recovery time

According to California law, nonexempt workers are required to be paid rest breaks that are at least 10 minutes long for every four hours worked or a significant percentage thereof.

Make sure that employees receive the right amount of overtime pay

According to the number of consecutive days and hours worked, the California Labor Law authorises overtime pay at a rate of 1.5x or 2x an employee’s “normal rate” of pay. The California Labor Commissioner has approved the following two approaches to figuring out an employee’s usual rate of pay for piece-rate workers:
You may determine the regular rate by dividing the total number of hours worked during the week, including overtime hours, by the total number of hours worked. The employee is eligible for one-half the regular rate for overtime hours that require time and one-half and an additional full rate for overtime hours that need double time for each overtime hour worked.

The production during overtime hours will be compensated at one and a half times the piece rate, which will serve as the regular rate.

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