Must an employee be paid for on-call hours?

I have an employee who is is required to be on call 24/7 even when he is not physically working for me. Do I have to pay him for all of the hours he is on call?

Asked on September 12, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

IF when on call, the employee is limited in where he can do--the most extreme example would be requiring him to be physically onsite, as firefighters often must be while awaiting a fire, but potentially also if you simply restrict him to a close and restrictive radius of the work place (e.g. must  be able to get there in, say, 10  minutes)--you would have to pay him. But so long as the employer is relatively free to do whatever he likes as long as he responds when called, then you don't. Again, if being "on call" is like being a fire fighter or an intern in a hospital, you'd pay; if it's like being a doctor with his own practice who just has to be reachable by beeper or cell phone and available to come in if necessary, you would not pay.


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