Piece Rate Employees
Employees who work in factories, agricultural employees, truckers, barbers and hair stylists are often paid in a piece-rate format. In other words, instead of being an hourly wage, these employees are paid per unit of a product they create or service they provide. For example, an employed barber may be paid for each haircut given instead of per hour worked; this is considered a piece-rate employee.
Under California labor laws, piece-rate employees must be compensated for “nonproductive time”, or, stated otherwise, the time under the employer’s control that is not directly related to the activity being compensated on a piece-rate basis. In addition, piece-rate employees must be separately compensated for the time to take rest and recovery breaks.
Non-productive time must be paid at an amount greater than minimum wage. Rest and recovery periods must be paid at an hourly rate no less than the greater of either the applicable minimum wage or the employee’s hourly wage for all time worked (exclusive of break time) during the work week. And, on top of that, each employee’s pay stub must account for amounts paid by piece-rate, amounts paid for nonproductive time, and amounts paid for rest and recovery periods. The failure by an employer to do any or all of these things constitutes violations by the employer entitling employees to unpaid wages and/or penalties.
For example, let’s take a barber working for a small employer in Los Angeles (where the minimum wage is currently $12 per hour for employers with less than 26 employees) who is paid $15 per haircut by her employer. Each appointment takes her approximately 20 minutes. She is required to be on premises for her entire work time.
On a slow day that she works 8 hours, she sees only 3 customers. She also takes a 30-minute lunch and two 15-minute rest breaks. In other words, the employee would have had 6 hours of non-productive time, 1 hour of productive time, and 1 hour of rest and recovery time. If the employer pays her only $45 for the appointments, the employer would have violated several key provisions of California law.
Specifically, the employee should be entitled to 6 hours of pay at $12 per hour (minimum wage) for the non-productive pay; $45 for the productive time (3 appointments at $15 each); and an extra $12 for the 1 hour of rest and recovery periods taken. Thus, the employee would be owed an additional $84 of pay that day. In addition, because the employer would not have included these additional rates of pay and amounts of pay on the employee’s pay stub for that week, the employee would be entitled to additional penalty pay for the inaccuracy of the pay stub.
The Bibiyan Law Group has recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and penalties for piece-rate employees who have had their wages stolen from them either knowingly or unknowingly by their employers. If you believe you are a piece-rate employee entitled to additional wages or penalties from your employer, call Unpaid Wages Attorney David Bibiyan for a free consultation today.