How can I be on-call for a shift on my scheduled day off?

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How can I be on-call for a shift on my scheduled day off?

I’m a waitress and the restaurant where I work has a pati, This patio is closed during the winter months and therefore each food server has the shift off that they would usually work once each rotation. Management has decided that when you are off (patio) you cannot pick up another shift offered by a co-worker regardless of the fact that you are not working because you are “on-call” in case someone cannot come in at the last minute. However, this is not a guaranteed shift. But you could have a guaranteed shift if you were allowed to pick it up from a co-worker. Must we be paid for this on-call time?

Asked on October 29, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Connecticut

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Two different questions are presented:

1) Must a nonexempt employee be paid for "on-call" time? Generally speaking, the employee is considered to be "working"--and therefore must be paid--only if there are substantial limits placed on the employee's freedom that day. If you had to keep yourself to, say, 15 or 20 minutes travel time of the restaurant or otherwise could not do whatever you wanted that day, then you might have to be paid. If it's simply that the restaurant might call you, wherever you are, and ask if you could come in, that is not the sort of "on call" for which you'd have to be paid.

If you called in and work, then you'd have to be paid for that.

2) Can the restaurant elect to not let you pick up another shift under certain circumstances? Yes--this is the sort of decision about work (it's allocation, management, who does it, etc.)  that a business is free to make.


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