When do employees on call need to be paid for their time?
The Department of Labor fielded that question in a recent Opinion Letter.
The issue of whether or not on-call time needs to be paid is case-specific, but the DOL discussed the factors that are considered:
- Response time — For the time to be classified as unpaid, employees must be allowed enough time to respond that they can still take on personal activities while they wait. In the specific example addressed in the Opinion Letter, employees had to answer calls within eight minutes — that’s probably not enough time, according to the DOL.
- Frequency — There’s no easy answer regarding how often employees can be called before they need to be paid. Generally, if employees can expect to be called at least once per shift, the time’s compensable.
- Location — If employees can go anywhere they want, their time probably isn’t compensable. If they have to stay within a certain radius of the workplace, depending on how frequently they’re called and how long they have to respond, their on-call time might be paid.
Read the DOL’s Opinion Letter here.