Determining whether on-call time constitutes ‘hours worked’.
By Pete McPherson, HRhero
The pay rules under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for “on call” time are a source of confusion – and potential liability. Questions may arise in the context of nonexempt employees who have just been notified that they’re on call because of a weather-related service issue, computer personnel who are on call if the system goes down, maintenance workers who are on call for service issues, or customer service personnel who are on call for a customer who needs to have a problem resolved outside of regular hours.
Of course, you don’t have to pay exempt, salaried employees extra for being on call. This article focuses on nonexempt, hourly employees.
Background and examples
The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) guidance on the on-call issue consists of only two sentences:
An employee who is required to remain on call on the employer’s premises or so close thereto that he cannot use the time effectively for his own purposes is working while “on call.” An employee who is not required to remain on the employer’s premises but is merely required to leave word at his home or with company officials where he may be reached is not working while on call.