Workers “On-Call” are Entitled to Compensation in California

posted in: Wage and Hour Violations | 0

We all like to make extra money during the holidays.  For many millennials, this means a part time-shift at a retail store, often from Black Friday weekend all the way through the Christmas holiday.  However, some employers aren’t sure of their needs, and schedule these employees to work “on-call.“ You may think it’s normal to check-in with your boss on a daily basis, but this process is actually against the law if you aren’t being paid for it.  Carter Law Firm, an Orange County employment law firm, wants to talk you through this tricky way of trying not to pay you wages for your time.


Does this scenario sound familiar? Your boss is unsure of how heavily staffed they need to be, so they schedule you and a few co-workers and then call everyone at a set time to confirm the day’s work or clear them from coming in.  You might not be aware that even if your boss tells you not to come in, they should be compensating you for your time. Why? Because your time is valuable! You are prevented from making your own plans by being made to be at your employer’s beck and call. This scenario even extends beyond those working in retail; other industries also use this system and hope not to be reported or sued. 


On-call hours happen in one of two ways.  First, employees may be placed on a schedule yet required to call in before their start time to see if their employer needs them or not. The manager will assess his staffing for the day and let employees know if they are needed or not. Second, employees may simply be required to wait, on-call, for some predetermined time span in which they may or may not be called into work.  The first of these scenarios is dubbed a “call-in shift;” the second refers to simply being “on-call.” Both require that employers pay their employees wages that they most often do not. 


For call-in shifts, California Law states that you are required to be paid “reporting time pay” when you show up to work but are not needed and sent home. The amount of time you need to be paid is at least two hours and up to half the scheduled shift. 


Recent cases have determined that the act of “calling in” triggers a reporting time pay obligation as well; it’s more than just needing to physically show up. In Ward v. Tilly’s, Inc. (2019) 31 Cal.App.5th 1167, the court held physical reporting was not required in order to come within the reporting time pay provision.  


For being on-call, California law requires that employees are paid for all of the time that they are on-call provided that they are prevented from doing things besides work.  For example, if an employee had to wait on the employer’s premises, or was for some reason restrained from doing things they would like to, they need to be paid. However, if the employee could leave the premises and do whatever they would like in the time, they would not need to be paid.


At Carter Law Firm, we have discovered that many employers in California aren’t paying their on-call employees for reporting time pay and for being on-call. To see if you are entitled to any additional compensation from your employer, contact us for a free consultation. The first step is filling out our confidential contact form below.  



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