When Must My Employer Pay for Time On-Call?
Most people are familiar with the rules covering pay during normal working hours. Far fewer people, however, know about the laws governing the hours you spend on-call. For example, are hospitals required to pay nurses for their time on-call when they're waiting to see if they're needed in the ER? Here are some of the considerations you should look at to determine if your employer should pay for time on-call.
When Employers Must Pay for Time On-Call
- Employee contracts or handbooks – The simplest determinant for on-call pay is checking what it says in your employment contract. If it requires on-call pay, then your employer must provide that. Similarly, employers must compensate union employees with collective bargaining agreements requiring on-call pay for any time spent on-call.
- Degree of freedom – Where can you go and what can you do while on call? How free are you to act of your own volition? The more stipulations an employer has over these considerations, such as staying within a certain radius of work or refraining from drinking alcohol, the more likely they are to offer on-call pay.
- Probability of employer calling – The more frequently your employer summons you when you are on-call, the more likely they are to pay you. However, if your employer classified you as an exempt, salaried employee, then they do not have to pay you for performing exempt duties while on call.