Is my employer obligated to pay their employees for an on call shift

I work for a small restaurant in Northern
California. Our schedules come out a few days
in advance and lately I have been scheduled
multiple on call shifts where I’m told that
I’ll be called one to two hours before the
scheduled time to let me know whether or not
I’m needed.
If I’m having to wait around for a phone call
and put off doing anything else like picking
up shifts at my other job or making plans
with my kids am I entitled to some kind of
compensation for the on call shift? Is my
emplpoyer violating any California laws?

Asked on January 21, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, they are not violating any laws: employers can require employees to be on call (or just schedule them, then call them to call the shift off instead, if they like) and are not required to pay for the time. While it does impose some limitations on you, you can still socialize, watch media, read, sleep, cook, do local shopping or chores, etc. It is not a sufficient limitation on your freedom as to be considered the equivalent of work, and so they do not need to pay you for it.


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