Can your employee require you to be on-call with no pay?

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Can your employee require you to be on-call with no pay?

My employer non profit who provided MH services States employees have to be on call a week at a time however the employee isn’t compensated until they actually have to take a crisis call or leave to go to the home where the crisis is happening. In addition being on-call you have to take/respond to the call within 15 minutes and you’re unable to make plans or leave the area if you’re on-call. I asked if on-call was in the employee handbook and I was told I signed a job description stating that I would be on-call and services were 24 hours a day 7 days a week, however no one is being compensated for waiting to be called during a crisis when on-call.

Asked on January 24, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, this is legal. While being on call does obviously put some restrictions on your movements or activities, you can still sleep; socialize; do chores; shop (as long as not too far away; or, of course, on line); watch movies or TV or read; exercise; eat at will; etc. It does not put so many restrictions on your life that it is considered the equivalent of work, and so  your employer does not need to pay you for being on-call--you only need to be paid when you respond to the call and work.


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