California Per Diem Employee Rights 2024 Explained

California Per Diem Employee

If you work on an as-needed basis, you are considered a per diem employee in California. Under this work designation, employers have lower expenses, and workers have greater flexibility. Although per diem workers are similar to independent contractors, they are still employees of the company. Anyone who works in these fields should understand their California per diem employee rights, which are protected under California law.

Who Works on a Per Diem Basis in California?

Substitute teachers are a common example of employees who work on an as-needed basis. Per diem translates to “per day” in Latin, and the flexible work arrangement is becoming more popular with workers and employers. Industries that employ the highest number of per diem workers include healthcare, food service, education, and construction.

Common examples of a per diem employee include:

  • Warehouse workers
  • Delivery persons
  • Construction workers
  • News reporters
  • Nurses

In California, per diem workers have the same employee rights as other employees. The main difference between a per diem position and a typically full-time position is that the per diem worker is not guaranteed a 40-hour workweek. Instead, they are used on an as-needed basis.

What Are My Rights as a Per Diem Employee?

Per diem workers have many rights under California law. Depending on how the employee negotiates their contract, they may not have certain benefits like healthcare coverage, but employers are required by law to fully reimburse workers for their time on the clock and for qualifying work-related expenses. If any of the following rights are violated, your California employment lawyer can take legal action to demand that you be paid back wages.

Wages and Minimum Wage

Per diem workers are guaranteed minimum wage or higher for all hours worked. If your employer sets your wage higher, they can never reduce that agreed amount without good cause. Some cities have minimum wages above the state’s minimum.

Overtime Wages

If you work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours within a workweek, you are guaranteed overtime pay. Certain industries and positions are exempted from overtime requirements. Overtime is calculated at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate. If you work more than 12 hours straight, any time over that amount must be reimbursed at twice the regular hourly rate.

Expense Reimbursement

Work-related expenses that are necessary and incurred while working should be reimbursed by your employer. Examples include lodging, meals, and travel expenses. If your employer refuses to pay for these expenses, you should consult with an experienced employment attorney. Per diem employees also have the right to take breaks for rest and meals.

Safe Working Conditions

All workers, including per diem employees, have the right to work in healthy and safe work environments. Furthermore, workers have the right to report concerns about safety without fear of retaliation.

Other Rights

Per diem workers are protected from discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics. Per diem employees who are injured while on the job have the right to access workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can provide medical coverage or payments for missed time at work as the per diem employee recovers.

Other rights include the right to freely access pay stubs and personnel records. If any of these rights are violated, you can rely on the legal services of an employment attorney to protect your rights and fight for your interests.


Q: What Are the Per Diem Rules in California?

A: The per diem rules in California allow certain employees to work on an as-needed basis. Substitute teachers and construction workers often fall until this job arrangement. Unlike independent contractors, per diem workers are considered employees in California. They are not guaranteed a set number of hours per week, though. Per diem employees have the right to use workers’ compensation benefits, and they are protected from discrimination.

Q: What Are the Pros and Cons of Per Diem Work?

A: Per diem workers often enjoy the flexibility that comes with their jobs. Anyone who doesn’t want to work a set 40 hours a day may prefer this type of job arrangement. The main downside is the lack of certain benefits. Not every per diem job offers health insurance, for example. Per diem work does not guarantee a set number of hours per week because the workers are hired on an as-needed basis as decided by the employer.

Q: How Does Per Diem Work for Employees?

A: If you work a per diem job, you will likely not have a set schedule. Your employer may notify you on a weekly basis about work availability. This could mean that you work eight hours one day but do not work for the next two days. Compared to part-time workers, per diem employees often earn a higher hourly wage because they often fill in during critical periods to handle important and urgent tasks.

Q: What Is the Law for Travel Reimbursement in California?

A: California’s labor code requires employers to reimburse employees for necessary expenditures incurred by workers as a consequence of their line of work. This includes travel reimbursement. Workers may be required to maintain receipts or log mileage. Some lines of work may be exempt from this form of reimbursement. If an employer denies travel reimbursement, the employee can file a complaint with the state or hire an employment attorney.

Q: Do Per Diem Employees Get Sick Time in California?

A: Paid sick leave (PSL) is protected by California law. All employees, including per diem workers, are entitled to 40 hours or five days of PSL per year. To qualify, the per diem worker must work at least 30 days a year in the state and complete 90 days of employment at their current workplace before they can take paid time off work. PSL can be used to seek treatment, a diagnosis, or any form of preventative care. PSL also covers workers seeking treatments for a family member.

Schedule Your California Per Diem Employee Rights Consultation Today

Per diem work allows for flexibility, and the pay for per diem work is often better than part-time work because per diem workers are often needed to handle urgent situations. Even though these as-needed workers are not considered full-time employees, California law still guarantees many rights to per diem employees. Any infringement of these rights could be grounds for taking swift legal action.

If you believe your workers’ rights have been violated, trust the Law Offices of Miguel S. Ramirez to defend your rights. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to serving you.

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