Does your employer have to pay you if you perform a job that requires “on-call time”?
The legal requirements regarding pay for on-call time are very confusing because the requirements are fact intensive and differ depending upon the state in which you live. We can, however, provide broad guidelines for understanding payment for “on-call” time.
On-Call Time: Waiting at Home or Work?
One important factor as to whether the employer must pay for on-call time is where employees spend their on-call time, at the workplace or at home. It is much more likely that the employer is legally required to pay for on-call time if that time occurs at the workplace. Courts generally find that employers must pay for workplace wait time because the employee is physically present at the workplace and ready to work. In contrast, courts are generally much less likely to require employers to pay for on-call time when employees wait at home because they can spend their time doing nonwork-related tasks. Usually, employees receive payment for at home on-call time only when employers significantly restrict the employees’ activities such that they must be ready to get to the workplace immediately upon notification.
For example, according to the Department of Labor, if employees must be on-call at the workplace premises, they likely must receive compensation for on-call time since they are “engaged to wait” by the employer. A common example of this legal requirement is paid firefighters who must remain at the fire facility waiting for the next emergency or fire.
Some States Have Additional Laws
Individual states may have different legal requirements for on-call payment. These legal requirements are too detailed to discuss here. You should contact us for state specific guidance if you have questions about on-call time payment in your state.
Beware of Other Common Wage Violations
While on the topic of employers and wage rules, we want to quickly highlight illegal wage practices that could cost you hard-earned money. The first thing to watch out for is having your job misclassified into a salaried, non-hourly role, solely to avoid paying overtime.
You can check out various sections of our website where we cover examples like “assistant managers,” independent contractors, and mortgage employees. These are common examples of jobs where employers misclassify employees as not receiving overtime payment when the law requires such payment.
Managers, for example, are generally only exempt from overtime payment if they spend at least half of their work time actually involved in managing employees. It’s likely illegal for an employer to pay employees a low salary, make them work 50 hours a week (including being on call often), and require them to do physically difficult hourly wage work.
The same concept applies to independent contractors. You likely do not legally qualify as an independent contractor if the company controls how you perform your work and the conditions of your job (like you’re an employee), but uses that classification to avoid paying overtime and employment benefits.
Finally, we want to review some of the most common wage violations we deal with at Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC.
Common Wage Violations
- Unpaid Overtime
- What is unpaid overtime? This refers to the time employees work beyond 40 hours each week. If they don’t receive a “time-and-a-half” premium for that work, the employer likely has violated the wage laws.
- Illegal Deductions
- Certain payroll deductions are fine in most jurisdictions, provided the employee signs paperwork consenting to it and the deductions benefit the employees. Otherwise, it’s generally not legal for a company to deduct pay for equipment, tools, and other supplies which benefit the employer.
- Missing Pay for Meal Period
- Employees who receive an unpaid meal period of 30 minutes or more must be completely relieved of all work duties during this period for it to go unpaid. The employer must pay for the meal period if the employee performs work during this period. We often see violations in the health care and nursing home industries.
- Receiving Less Than Minimum Wages
- The federal minimum wage is $7.25, and higher in certain states. Employers must pay at least this rate for all hours employees work unless very limited legal exceptions apply.
Ask Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC About Pay for On-Call Time
As always, you can contact Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC anytime to ask specific questions regarding your experience as an on-call employee.
Would you like to learn more about this topic? Then contact Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC anytime and find out whether your on-call time or other wage issue requires compensation.