For pay statements, does ‘total hours worked’ include vacation and PTO?

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. We realize that California requires pay statements to show “total hours worked,” but we’re confused about what exactly this means. Does this include vacation or paid time off that employees have earned?

A. Section 226(a)(2) of the California Labor Code requires all pay statements to show the total hours worked. Many employer pay statements include on that line “unworked” hours such as vacation time, available sick leave and holidays.

While there has never been any question that the section specifically requires that only the hours “worked” must be shown, several cases have indicated that if the employee can add up the hours worked shown on other portions of the statements to arrive at this figure, the failure to print that total separately on the pay statement is not a violation.

In at least two cases, courts have found that the section 226(a)(2) requirements were not met because the required total could not be easily added up from the information provided on the statement.

A recent development has called all of these cases into question. Senate Bill No. 1255, which amended Labor Code section 226(e), went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. It was enacted to codify injury that could result from inaccurate or incomplete pay statement information. Because Labor Code section 226(e) provides for significant damages that can be recovered directly by employees as “statutory” penalties and additional “civil” penalties under the Private Attorney General Act of 2004, this new amendment makes it risky for employers to do anything other than simply making certain that the “Total Hours Worked” are printed separately on all employee pay statements.

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