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Are California employees required to be paid for time spent “on call?”

It Depends on How Restricted an Employee is by Work Demands During Time Spent On Call

On Call Wage and Hour Attorney Employee Lawyer

There are a number of situations where an employee must be compensated for his time, even if he or she does nothing but wait for something to happen. This is commonly called on-call time or standby time, and whether or not an employee should be compensated depends on how restricted he or she is by the work demands during time spent on call.

On-call or standby time is likely compensated if the employee:

  • Is required to remain on the employer’s property
  • Is restricted in performing personal business (such as taking personal calls or accessing email)
  • Is excessively restricted in his movements due to geographic requirements
  • Is unable to perform personal business due to the frequency of work calls or fixed time limits for responding
  • Must refrain from certain activities (such as drinking alcohol) in order to remain instantly ready to serve
  • Cannot easily trade his on-call duties with another employee

It is worth noting that an organization does not automatically have to pay employees who are required to carry beepers or cell phones to respond to work calls and that the activities performed while on call do not necessarily render them non-compensable. For example, a person who is asked to stay by the phone while on vacation but does not take work calls may not be paid for work time, while an employee who eats meals and sleeps in a hospital break room while on call is required to be compensated.

Get the Facts on On-Call Pay Violations

While employees may be paid at a different rate for on-call time than they are for normal working hours, they should still receive fair pay for work demand on their time. Learn more about California wage violations in our free guide, The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide To Getting Your Hard-Earned Wages Back.

Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation. Thanks, Bill Turley


William Turley
“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”

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