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Are Employees Entitled to Payment for On-Call Time?

One of the most common questions in wage and hour cases is whether employees must be paid for “on-call” time . As business needs increase and customers demand more service at any given time of the day or night, many employers have found it necessary to have some of their employees remain “on-call” for a certain period of time or even 24-hours a day.

What employers and employees need to know is that any policies that are implemented with regard to on-call time need to comply with state and federal labor laws. Your Georgia employment lawyers will tell you that an employee must be paid for on-call hours if the time is spent primarily for the benefit of the employer and the employee is unable to use the time effectively for personal purposes. Under this rule, on-call time usually is not compensable. Many on-call employees are allowed to perform personal activities such as shopping, dining with friends, and sleeping. For these employees, compensation is only owed for the time they spend responding to calls and not for the entire on-call period.

On-Call Policies: Factors For Consideration

When considering whether or not an on-call employee should be paid, there are a number of factors of which employers and employees should be mindful. For instance, one must look at the number of calls an employee will receive while he or she is on call. If an employee is required to respond to a high volume of calls, it is highly likely that he or she will need to be paid for that time.

Additionally, with respect to calls, one must look at how much time an employee is given to respond once a call is received. If an employee has to respond immediately to a call, that employee should be paid for his or her time. Also, if an employee’s movement and/or activity is very restricted under the policy, the employer will likely need to pay for the employee’s time. Most Georgia employment lawyers are well aware that the issue of pay for on-call time can be very tricky and complex, and anyone who has questions regarding their rights and/or obligations should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Less Restrictive On-Call Policies

According to federal law, non-exempt employees who are not expected to stay on an employer’s worksite and are free to take part in personal activities with the understanding that their supervisors must have the ability to reach them are typically not considered to be “working while on call,” and as such, the employer might not be required to pay for the on-call time associated with such an arrangement. However, employers should keep in mind that any amount of time that a non-exempt employee spends actually doing work while on call will be considered time worked under the law and should be compensated.

Today’s technology gives on-call employees much more freedom than they had in the past. Still, it is important for both employers and employees to understand any policies that have been established and how those policies can affect whether or not there will be compensation associated with on-call time. The Georgia employment lawyers at Mays and Kerr can help employers and employees make sense of any on-call policies that have been implemented. Contact us today for assistance.