The payment of wages to employees in California is governed by the California Labor Code and regulations promulgated by the Industrial Welfare Commission. These laws and regulations are enforced by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. These laws set forth the basic standards for minimum wage, overtime, tips, meal and rest breaks, and time worked. California employers who are found to have violated these laws or regulations may be liable for unpaid wages or unpaid overtime and may also be required to pay penalties.
When Must You Pay Your Employee for Time Spent On-Call?
The general rule for compensation is that employees are paid for the time they spend performing work for their employer. In the case of on-call employees, an employer may be required to pay the employee for the time spent waiting to perform work if the time was spent primarily for the benefit of the employer.
Employee Spends On-Call Time at the Place of Business
If your employee is required to stay at the worksite for the on-call period, the time is compensable. California courts have found the following on-call arrangements to be compensable:
– The time a restaurant employee spends waiting around at the restaurant for sufficient customers to arrive before clocking in
– The time a security guard spends sleeping and watching television at the worksite where he is required to stay in case his services were needed
Employee Spends On-Call Time Away From Place of Business
Employees who are not at work, but nevertheless remain “on-call” may still be eligible for compensation. Whether the time the employee spends “on-call” in this situation is compensable is a fact intensive analysis. California courts will look at several factors such as:
· whether the employee was required to remain close by for the duration of the time he was on-call so that he could not effectively use his time otherwise;
· whether the frequency of calls or the fixed time limit for a response was unduly restrictive;
· the extent the employee actually engaged in personal activities during the on-call times; and
· whether the on-call employee’s duties were easily transferable to another employee.
Therefore, even if your employee is not at work, if you require her to remain “on-call” with certain restrictions, you may well have to compensate her for that time.
For more information on compensable work time, or to discuss a potential wage and hour lawsuit, contact experienced wage and hour attorney Drew E. Pomerance today.