What pay rateis an on-call employee entitled to?

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What pay rateis an on-call employee entitled to?

I work at a local hospital part-time as an X-ray/CT tech. A couple years ago they started requiring the “on call” techs to remain at the hospital. And yet they only pay us on call wages ($2/hr). This doesn’t seem right.

Asked on July 7, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Washington

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Let me clarify what I understand this question to be.  As an x-ray/CT tech you are required to be on call a certain amount of time as part of your entire job.  When you are in call - which really presumably means that you can be anywhere as long as you are accessible by phone, beeper, etc., - you are paid a $2 per hour rate regardless of if you are called or not.  I presume that if you are called and have to actually go in to work you are paid your regular rate.  Now the hospital is requiring that you be on premises during your on call as if on a regular shift but are paying you still the $2 rate.  No, it is not right.  You are tethered to the hospital and can not go about your regular life.  I think that you should seek to file a complaint through the channels available to you at the hospital (you need to exhaust them first) and if that does not work, seek legal help.  Maybe the Department of labor can help as well.  Good luck. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

While an employer does not necessarily need to pay the same wages for "on call" time as for other work--though if they don't, that needs to be by "agreement" (that is, it needs to be a known work or pay policy, which employees at least implicitly agree to by keeping their jobs after knowing of the policy), they MUST pay at least minimum wage; since the federal minimum wage is currently $7.75 hour it appears that you are being underpaid. It would be different if you, when on call, could leave the hospital, do whatever you like, etc., subject to just have a cell phone or pager and coming in when called (like on call doctors); then, except when actualy called in, you'd not be working and would not have to be paid at all. But by requiring you to stay at the hospital, they are forcing you to work, even if that work is just sitting around until they have a task for you--it's work whenever you are forced to remain at the worksite for the employer's benefit. And if you are working, you must receive at least minimum wage, and also overtime when appropriate.


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