In a December 18, 2008 opinion letter, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) determined that an employee’s on-call time did not count as hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The opinion letter offers a helpful reminder of how on-call time works under the FLSA.
Whether on-call time counts as paid time depends on the facts of the situation, but comes down to how much freedom an employee has while on call. If an employer imposes very few restrictions on an employee while on call, the time does not count as hours worked. But, if an employer imposes many restrictions, the time may count as paid time. Some relevant factors include geographic restrictions, how much time an employee has to report when called, how many calls an employee actually receives, the ability to trade on-call duties and whether on-call duties are part of an agreement with the employer.
The employee who wrote to the DOL said he had to be reachable at all times, could not drink alcohol while on call and had one hour to report after receiving a call. He did not receive call-backs often, but his employer limited how much overtime he worked when on call and disciplined employees who did not follow the on-call restrictions. Based on those facts, the DOL determined the restrictions were not enough to turn the on-call time into paid hours worked.
This blog entry was authored by Lara Strauss