Forced-To-Stay-On-Call-Without-Pay.jpg (2149×1159)On-call pay can be a mystery for employees. Do you have the right to get paid for your on-call time at work? It really comes down to whether or not your time belongs mostly to you or to your employer. If you spend a considerable portion of your time working or waiting you may be entitled to on-call pay. The more restricted your time, the more likely you are to have the right to be paid. Here’s a look at the details of on-call pay to help you better understand your rights and responsibilities as an on-call employee.

On Site

You have the right to be paid for your time any time you are on-call at your physical workplace. If an employer requires you be on-site during on-call hours, then those automatically qualify as paid hours. If your job is to facilitate phone calls and you have to sit at a desk waiting for the calls to come in, your employer is required to pay you for all the time you spend waiting, not just the time you are on the phone.
The same goes for working from home. If you are expected to sit at a desk or wait for calls in a manner in which you are not free to go elsewhere, then your employer must pay you for your time. On the other hand, if you are free to do things not related to your work while on-call, your employer may not be required to pay you for your time.

Off Site

When working off-site or from home, things can become a little more complicated. In some cases, an employee may have to prove that being on-call restricts them from their normal daily activities in order to qualify for on-call pay. If you are capable of going shopping or participating in leisure activities while on-call, a court would likely agree with an employer that your on-call duties do not qualify as paid time.
If being on call restricts your daily activities, however, then your time does qualify for on-call pay. Off-site, on-call time will also qualify you for on-call pay if you receive frequent phone calls or in the case that you are expected to report back to a superior quickly or frequently.


Thanks to the widespread use of cellphones, many employees can remain on-call without being forced to stay in one singular location. It’s important to remember that if you are required by your employer to remain in one location while on-call, you are entitled to wages for that time, whether or not you end up doing any work.

After Hours

Being on-call after hours does not automatically qualify an employee for overtime pay, but it is important to note how being on-call affects your life outside of work. If you are restricted from drinking alcohol while on-call, for instance, then you should be compensated for your time. Any time that is not “free” for you to do what you might normally do is time your employer should pay for.

On A Call

Once you are working, whether that means being called to the work site or being put on a call from elsewhere, you are entitled to appropriate wages. None of the time you spend on the phone or on-site should ever go unpaid. It can be tough to prove to a court that your on-call time is eligible for pay, but the time you spend actually working while on-call should always be paid time no matter what. Be sure to log the time you spend working accurately while on-call.

Contact A Lawyer

If your employer is forcing you to work on-call without pay, it’s time to talk to a lawyer. An experienced legal team can help you find out whether or not you are entitled to on-call pay for your time. Knowing your rights is our job. Aiman-Smith & Marcy is a small law firm in California specializing in employment law and consumer fraud. Contact us today to help get you the pay you deserve.

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