What are an employee’s rights regarding a 24/7 on-call situation?

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What are an employee’s rights regarding a 24/7 on-call situation?

I AM THE ONLY MAINTENANCE MAN AT A HOTEL. I’M ON CALL 24/7. IS THIS LEGAL? CAN THEY FIRE ME IF I DON’T CALL BACK OR NOT ANSWER THE PHONE? WHEN THE HOTEL WAS BOUGHT THEY GAVE ME 50 CENTS MORE A HOUR AND 8 HOURS A DAY. THEN AFTER 6 MONTHS THEY SAID THAT I SHOULD ONLY HAVE BEEN WORKING 5 HOURS AND THEY SAID THEY NEVER TOLD ME 8 HOURS. THEN THEY SAID IF BUSINESS PICKED UP THEY WOULD GIVE ME 8 HOURS. THEN BUSINESS DID PICK UP BUT I NEVER GOT MY HOURS BACK. NOW BUSINESS IS SLOW AGAIN AND THEY CUT ME TO 4 HOURS A DAY. I HAVE BEEN AT THIS HOTEL FOR 15 YEARS. IF THEY HAVE TO HAVE SOMEONE FROM THE OUTSIDE TO TRY TO FIX THEIR PROBLEMS IT WOULD COST THEM MORE THEN THAT HOUR THAT THEY WANT TO CUT ME.

Asked on October 21, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) There is no upper limit for most jobs about the employees can be "on call" or even work--the exceptions are certain regulated fields where safety is an issue, like truck drivers and pilots, or when there is union contract limiting this. So you can be asked to be on all as much as they like.

1a) An employer can make it a condition of employment that you return all calls and fire you if you don't.

2) You have to be paid for any hours you actually work. So say you are called in for a repair and work 6 hours--even if you theoretically should be paid for 4, you need to be paid for the 6 you worked.

3) IF you are restricted in where you can do and go while on call, it MAY be the case that you have to be paid for at least some of them--if you have limitations, such as you have to be able to get to the hotel within 10 or 15 minutes of a call, you may need to be paid for more hours. If this is the case, speak with an employment attorney to see what rights you may have.

4) Whether or not it makes sense to cut you or pay an outside person is a business decision, not a legal issue.


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