Is my employer obligated to pay their employees for an on call shift

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is my employer obligated to pay their employees for an on call shift

I work for a small restaurant in Northern
California. Our schedules come out a few days
in advance and lately I have been scheduled
multiple on call shifts where I’m told that
I’ll be called one to two hours before the
scheduled time to let me know whether or not
I’m needed.
If I’m having to wait around for a phone call
and put off doing anything else like picking
up shifts at my other job or making plans
with my kids am I entitled to some kind of
compensation for the on call shift? Is my
emplpoyer violating any California laws?

Asked on January 21, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, they are not violating any laws: employers can require employees to be on call (or just schedule them, then call them to call the shift off instead, if they like) and are not required to pay for the time. While it does impose some limitations on you, you can still socialize, watch media, read, sleep, cook, do local shopping or chores, etc. It is not a sufficient limitation on your freedom as to be considered the equivalent of work, and so they do not need to pay you for it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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