Does an employee need to be paid for on-call time?

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

An employee must be paid for on-call time if he or she is required to remain on the employer's premises. An employee does not need to be paid for on-call time if he or she is merely required to inform the employer of where he or she may be reached.

Whether or not an employee who falls somewhere between these two poles must be paid for on-call time depends on whether the employee can "use the time effectively for personal purposes." Federal courts and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) have weighed several factors in answering this question, including:

  • Geographical restrictions;
  • The number of times the employee is expected to return per shift;
  • The proportion of calls to which employees must respond;
  • Required response times;
  • The employee's ability to trade on-call shifts with other employees;
  • Actual engagement in personal activities; and
  • Employment agreements.

Some states also have their own requirements regarding the compensability of on-call time.