Under what circumstances must my employer compensate me for being on call?

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Under what circumstances must my employer compensate me for being on call?

My employer requires me to have my phone on me at all time when not at work. He stated that if he calls and either we don’t answer or don’t return the call in a reasonable amount of time we can be written up or terminated because he may need me to report to work immediately. I work in private security and carry a firearm at work so I have to consider my off duty activities (drinking alcohol, distance from work) when not at work in case a situation should arise where my employer calls me in. At what point does my employer have to compensate me for being on call?

Asked on April 21, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If an employee must be on-call outside of the work place, then they may have to be paid pay for those hours. If the employee has constraints placed on them such that they have little/no control of such time (ie they cannot use for their own enjoyment/benefit) then that employee should be paid. Generally, the more restrictions that are on an employee, the more likely it is that they should be paid.

Some considerations as to whether not this time that should be compensated are:

  • The amount of calls that an employee gets while on call: the more the more likely the time must bre paid especially if any of the calls require the employee to report to work or give advice or over the phone.
  • The amount of time in which the employee has to respond after receiving a call. The more immediat the employee's response the greater the likelihood that they are entitled to compensation.
  • Any geographical limitations as to where an employee can go while on call. Employees who must stay within a limited distance from work are more likely is is that they need to be paid for their time.
  • Restrictions as to what an employee can/cannot do while on call. For example, a ban on alcohol. If such is the case, an employer will likely have to pay for this time.

For further information, you can contact the department of labor in your state.


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