ask the attorney i am on the call every other weekend should i be paid

Ask the Attorney: I Am On Call Every Other Weekend. Should I Be Paid for This, Even When I’m Not Called In?

By Tom McKinney
NJ Employment Attorney

Certain jobs require employees to be on call when they are not clocked in. These jobs usually require an emergency response or some other type of coverage. We will explore the federal and state laws surrounding these policies and explain whether on-call employees should be compensated for their time.

What is on-call pay?

On-call pay is monetary compensation for hours when an employee is not engaged in work but is asked to keep themselves available to their employer. On-call requirements are common in healthcare and other sectors where fast responses are important. However, not all employees are compensated for the time they spend on call.

Are you entitled to on-call pay?

Whether you are wondering about on-call pay for hourly employees or on-call compensation for salaried employees, payments are not guaranteed under current federal law. Currently, an on-call employee’s right to compensation depends on their physical location and where they are required to be.

For example, employees who are required to be on-site during a specific period must be paid for that time, even if they are not working. For example, if an employee is required to sit in an office and wait for their next task, they must be paid for that time.

Working Away from the Office

If hourly employees are allowed to leave the office but are required to remain on call at home, they may be entitled to pay in certain circumstances. For example, if an employee must make significant changes to their life to remain available for their employer, they could be entitled to on-call pay.

A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to the restrictions your employer places on you. Undue restrictions that drastically impact your ability to do what you want in your free time could be grounds for compensation. When evaluating these restrictions, there are a few factors you should consider.

Where can you go while you’re on call?

If you are required to stay within a specific distance of your place of employment while on call, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

How long do you have to respond to your manager?

You may be entitled to on-call pay if your employer requires you to come into the office immediately after they contact you.

What are you allowed to do while on a call?

If your employer places behavioral restrictions on on-call employees, the employees may have a case for compensation. Potential restrictions could include mandated response times and bans on imbibing alcohol.

How often do your superiors communicate with you while you’re away?

When an employer consistently calls you at home, it prevents you from using your time as you see fit. This is a tactic that some employers use to get free work from employees when they are away from the office. A fairly compensated hourly employee should receive payment for any work they perform.

If your employer expects you to maintain availability for all of their calls, you may be able to seek financial compensation. It doesn’t matter whether these calls include direct requests to go to the office or whether your employer is asking for remote guidance pertaining to a task or other workplace issue.

Don’t Settle for Less; Contact NJ Employment Lawyers

If you are being paid unfairly and need to contact a qualified employment lawyer, get in touch with NJ Employment Lawyers today. We serve the New Jersey area in all matters related to employment law. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is a skilled employment law attorney with New Jersey Employment Lawyers LLC. He has a track record of success in all areas of employment law, including sexual harassment, discrimination, harassment, wrongful discharge, whistleblower claims and hostile work environment claims. Besides litigation, Tom handles severance agreements and severance package reviews/negotiations for over 100 people each year. If you have any questions regarding this blog, contact Tom here.