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On Call Pay

Hello! We have Maintenance Technicians that either work part time hours/full time hours and rotate being “On-Call”. They do not have to remain at the work site but when they are “On-Call” they are required to answer their phone if they do get a call. If needed they do need to come back to work if there is a maintenance issue. How do we compensate for the time “On-Call” and if they actually get a call and/or are required to come back into work? My thought is for “On-Call” time they should be compensated at least Federal Min wage. When they actually get a call they should be compensated their normal hourly rate (if they get a call that is 15 minutes we would pay them for an hour at their normal hourly rate or a min of 30 minutes for anything between 0-30 minutes and 1 hour for calls 30min-1 hour). If they can answer the question on the phone they would go back to receiving “On-Call” pay. States we operate in: Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Virgina, North Carolina.

Regulations for on call compensation are established by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Whether non-exempt employees must be compensated for their on-call time depends on whether they are “waiting to be engaged” or “engaged to wait”.

An on call employee who is able to be on call from home or use his time freely for personal matters is considered waiting to be engaged and the hours are not compensable. However, if the employer places so many restrictions on what the employee is able to do or excessive calls are received during the on call time then the hours worked must be paid. For example, an employer requires employees to respond within a short time frame or an employee receives so many calls he can’t eat his dinner.

An employee required to remain on call at the employer’s location or so close to the premises that he cannot use the time effectively for his own purposes is considered engaged to wait and must be compensated for that time. For example, a mechanic reading a book while waiting for a customer to arrive or a fireman playing checkers while waiting for an alarm are both required to be paid for their waiting time.

It appears the Maintenance Technicians are waiting to be engaged. Thus, compensation for the on call time is most likely not legally required. However, if there are limitations imposed on the employee or the employer choses to compensate the employee for the time, it’s acceptable to pay at least minimum wage for each hour the employee is on call. Compensation at their regular pay rate for the time spent receiving calls is generous and above what is legally mandated. If the worker is required to return to the jobsite, of course, the time worked is compensable at the regular rate of pay. Keep in mind, compensated on call hours are considered hours worked and are subject to overtime regulations as well as any actual overtime hours worked.

It’s important to establish a clear on call policy. Doing so ensures workers are informed of their obligations and rights while on call. Be sure to include not only the rates and guidelines of on call pay but also the documentation required for submitting the appropriate hours and any restrictions while on call i.e. no alcohol use. Offering on call compensation above what is required by law is a motivational factor for many employees. It may increase job satisfaction, in turn, increasing productivity and employee retention.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 at 8:41 pm and is filed under
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