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Should I get paid for “on call” or waiting time? – FLSA Q&A Series

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgFAQ: My boss says that I don’t have to come to work but I have to be on call and available to come in as soon as he calls or pages me. Should I be paid for the time I spend waiting?

Many industries require their employees to be “on call” or “stand by” and wait for a page or phone call to report back to work. You may be required to stay close to your place of business or within a certain range and, in certain situations, you should be paid for your “on call” time.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, if you are required to remain on your employer’s premises while on call then you are working and your time is compensable. However, if you are required to be on call from home or from a number where you can be reached, it will depend on the specific facts. The more constraints and restrictions on where you can go and what you can do while waiting, the more likely that your on call time will be considered work. For example, the following factors have been used to determine whether your on call time is considered work and therefore compensable:

  • How close to your employer’s premises are you required to stay. For example, if called, do you need to report back within 10 minutes or 2 hours?
  • Are you allowed to consume alcohol or do you need to remain sober?
  • How often are you being paged or called? For example, while on call, are you being paged every 5 minutes or once every 3 hours?
  • How quickly do you have to respond to your pager?
  • Are you required to be ready to report in a uniform?

The more constraints that the above factors place on your ability to use your time, the more likely that your “on call” time will be considered work and compensable under the FLSA. The FLSA states that “an employee who is required to remain on call on the employee’s premises or so close thereto that he cannot use the time effectively for his own purposes” is working and therefore compensable. Given all the factors involved, whether your on call time is considered work or not will depend on your particular facts. If you think you should be compensated for your on call time, call our FSLA Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala to discuss the facts of your case and determine if your employment rights are being violated.


Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney in your state or jurisdiction.

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