Paying for Employee On Call Time

A lot of workers (and their employers) are confused about whether or not an employee must be paid for their "on call" time. In the days of iPhones and Blackberries employees can be reached almost anywhere, anytime. Many workers believe that if they can be called into work, they should be paid for that time and even be eligible for overtime. However, usually, "on call" time is not usually compensable if your employer is following a few rules.

First thing's first, if you are on your employer's property and cannot leave because you are "on call", you should be paid for that time. Even though you may be watching TV, reading a book or talking on the phone, if you are "on call" (meaning you must begin work as soon as you are notified) and you are on your employer's property, you should be paid for all of your time.

If you are off duty, meaning you are at home or at another location, which you are free to come and go but still "on call" your time is generally not compensable. However, for this time to not be compensable, your employer must follow three rules. First, you must be fully compensated for your regular "on duty" shifts. Second, you must be paid for your actual time responding to calls (meaning, if you are sent an email or take a phone call, you must be paid for that time, even if you didn't have to go into work). Finally, except for having to respond to calls, you are free to use your "on call" time to eat, sleep or pursue any normal range of activities as if you were not on call.

Next time you have an "on call" shift, make sure you think about whether your time is really your own, and if you are being compensated for each phone call and email that you are required to respond to. If you aren't being fully compensated, you likely have a claim for unpaid wages.

Categories: On Call Time, Overtime