On-Call Time, Are You On or Off The Clock?


Waiting Time

Whether waiting time is counted as work time depends on the level of control the employer exercises over the employee during the waiting time.  If the employer’s control over the wait time is such that an employee is unable to use to the time effectively for his or her own purposes, then the wait time will be compensable.  For example, under the FLSA, an employee who reads a book while waiting for an assignment or a paramedic who plays cards while waiting to respond to a call is considered to be “engaged to wait” and, therefore, is entitled to receive pay for the time.

On the other hand, waiting time does not count as work time if the employee is completely relieved from duty, and the waiting time is long enough that the employee can use it effectively for his or her own purposes.  For example, if an employee can leave the premises and perform any activity of choice, then the waiting time is not counted as work time.

On Call Time

Whether on-call time is counted as work time depends on several factors, including the location of employee and the employee’s ability to make choices about the use of time. On-call time counts as work time if:

  • The employee has to stay on the employer’s premises, or
  • The employee has to stay so close to the employer’s premises that the employee cannot use that time effectively for his or her own purposes

In contract, on-call time usually does not count as work time if:

  • The employee is required to carry a pager or answer a cell phone;
  • The employee is required to remain on-call at home;
  • The employer is allowed to leave a message where he/she can be reached.

If you have questions regarding the whether your wait time or on call time counts as compensable work time, contact the Shavitz Law Group for a free consultation.