On-Call Time: Are You Entitled to Be Paid For On-Call Time? | Mann & Elias
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On-Call Time: Are You Entitled to Be Paid For On-Call Time?


While most workers put in a shift at their job and then go home for the day knowing the remaining time is theirs to use as they see fit, other employees in various occupations may be required to be on-call by their employers. While you may think this only applies to doctors, nurses, first responders, and others in similar occupations, the fact is employees in many industries can be on-call, including restaurant workers, retail workers, and many more. This means that even when they aren’t on the schedule, their manager can call them to come back to work. In these situations, questions often arise as to whether these employees are entitled to be paid for the specific times when they are on-call. If you are an on-call employee and have questions about this issue, it is best to seek advice from an employment attorney in Los Angeles as soon as possible.

What is Considered On-Call Time?

When discussing on-call time and employees, this time refers to hours when an employee may not be actually performing any of their duties, yet are expected to be available for work if called upon. When disputes arise regarding whether or not an employee is entitled to be paid for their on-call hours, the determining factors often include where they have to be while on-call and whatever restrictions their employer places on them while on-call. Being on-call means that your time is not your own, and you can’t enjoy your day off with time-consuming activities like hiking and going to the movies. Since your job is dictating your free time, it’s easy to feel taken advantage of. A Los Angeles employer violations lawyer from Mann & Elias can ensure that you’re being treated fairly on and off the clock. 

Employees Who Stay at Work

In some on-call situations, employees stay at work while waiting to be told to begin working at their job. When this occurs, an employer is required to pay the employee for this on-call time. Examples of this taking place involve repair technicians who must stay at work waiting for service calls, secretaries who sit at their desk waiting for various assignments, or restaurant workers who wait to see if shifts will be busy enough to require their services waiting tables or performing other tasks. Whatever the case may be, your employer must pay you for this time. If you are not being paid for your on-call time in these or similar situations, hire an employee rights attorney to make sure your boss is not taking advantage of you.

Employees Who Don’t Stay at Work

For employees who do not stay at work while being on-call, it can be tricky determining which, if any, of this time they should be paid by their employer. While they are not physically on the job, on-call employees have little control over their free time. Employers may balk at having to pay for such hours, citing they are not restricting an employee as much as it is being alleged. Since this may be hard to resolve on your own, it is best to not let your employer take advantage of you and monopolize your life. Instead, turn to a legal professional to get this workplace dispute resolved in your favor.

What Can or Can’t Be Done While On-Call

In some instances, an employer will place specific restrictions on what an on-call employee can or cannot do while waiting to be called. This can include responding within minutes to their place of work, not being allowed to drink alcohol while on-call, or other restrictions. If you believe your employer is being unreasonable with the restrictions they are placing on you while you are on-call, trying to handle this by yourself could see you getting fired for no justifiable reason. An experienced lawyer that is well-versed in worker’s rights in and outside of the place of work, will ensure that whatever restrictions are placed on you are well within the law. Having a professional handle this conflict is advisable since some restaurant owners regularly take advantage of employees’ naivety by overworking them without compensation.

Where You Can Go While On-Call

Depending on your job, an employer may decide you must stay within a certain area from your workplace, which will enable you to report to work as quickly as possible. An alluring city like Los Angeles has many different sights and attractions, and being on-call keeps you from exploring the area to its fullest. When a location restriction is placed upon you by your employer, you are generally entitled to be paid for your on-call time. However, like the other situations mentioned thus far, your employer may have other ideas when it comes to actually paying you for time you cannot spend as you would choose under normal circumstances. It may be helpful to learn about various legal options and workplace protections already in place via state or federal laws.

Responding to On-Call Requests

Should your employer require you to report to work within 15-30 minutes from the time you receive a phone call, you should almost certainly be paid for the time you are on-call. However, many employers will fail to see it this way, and instead argue you knew of the restrictive nature of your job when you were hired. If you are reporting to work as quickly as possible but are not being compensated for your on-call time, don’t let this continue. Instead, pick up the phone and schedule a consultation today at Mann & Elias.

Number of Calls Received While On-Call

If you are in a job where you are getting numerous calls during your on-call hours, you have a strong argument to be paid for this time. For example, if you are a computer technician who is getting call after call to help troubleshoot problems over the phone, it will be virtually impossible for you to do anything else with your on-call time. Additionally, responding to work-related calls on a day off disrupts your peace of mind and gets in the way of relaxation. As a result, your employer should pay you for your on-call time, and an attorney will ensure that you are compensated without facing pushback from the owner.

Standing Up for Your Worker’s Rights

Not being able to separate yourself from work is detrimental to your mental health. Work-life balance is crucial to one’s well-being, and you are not alone in your struggle to maintain a healthy balance between work and free time. You deserve to enjoy your day away from work, and if you feel your employer is taking advantage of you, then they may be outside the workers’ rights laws surrounding on-call time. Luckily, the offices of Mann & Elias are well-versed in this type of law and can make sure that you are being treated fairly in your position.


Since 1998, Mann & Elias has served the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura. With over $18 million in settlements and verdicts, and nearly 100 jury and bench trials under their belts, Scott Mann and Imad Elias have the proven ability to provide exceptional legal care in all areas of employment litigation. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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