Can my boss refuse to pay me for time worked while on call?

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Can my boss refuse to pay me for time worked while on call?

My employer provided me with a cellphone and said that I must be on call between the hours of 9pm and Midnight, meaning I have to either be on campus or within 10-15 minutes of campus. I also must answer every call, and will only get paid if I have to go to work. I always get calls at least 3-4 calls I am on time, often which do not require me to come to the office. Since I am not at the regular location, she says we will not get paid for that time we are on call and encourages employees to call us and demands they have the same access to me as normal business hours.

Asked on September 15, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) If you are simply available to be called, even with a work cellphone, that is not necessarily work time; however--

2) If you are restricted to where you can be--e.g. have to w/in 10 - 15 minutes of campus, that restriction on your mobility and what you must do might then be enough to make it compensible work time. In addition,

3) Working offsite is still working. Time actually spent on work calls is work time and needs to be compensated unless it's truly de minims. Whether it's de minimis is a question of fact, but 3 - 4 calls, if each lasts more than a minute or so, is probably not--you probably need to be paid for the aggregate time. Note again that physical location does not determine whether it is work or not.

From what you write, you should probably consult with an employment attorney, who can evaluate your situation in depth and advise as to whether you might have a claim for unpaid wages and/or other damages.


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