What is the legal minimum an employer can pay me while “on-call”?

When “on-call” I am required to stay close enough to the store to be there within 5-10 minutes after receiving a phone call. My time on the clock after a phone call may be from 10 minutes to the rest of my “scheduled” shift? This is a daily situation. We are currently being paid “on call wages” of $1.00 an hour.

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You need to speak with an employment attorney to evaluate your situation in detail; it's worthwhile to do so, since you may have a claim. That's because while there's no need to pay an employee at all for being on call if (s)he is free to go and do what he wants--if like a doctor, (s)he merely needs to have his/her phone with him/her--the fact that you are restricted to withing a 5 - 10 minute radius of the store may be restrictive enough to be considered to be "working." After all, if you had to be onsite while on call, that would undoubtedly be considered work, even if the "work" was just sitting around. Being *very* close to your place of business may be sufficiently restrictive and sufficiently like having to be onsite to qualify as work, too. If it does, you would need to be paid at least minimum wage ($7.75 per hour). It's not clear you have a cause of action, but from what you write, you may--it's worth taking the time to consult with an attorney in detail. (Many provide a free initial consultation.)

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