Your boss tells you that you’re going to have to be on call for the weekend. They’re not sure if they’re actually going to need you at the company or not, but they want you to be available. As a result, they ask you to have your work phone on and to be ready to come in at a moment’s notice.
You may not have had plans and you may be willing to do this, but you’re still a bit concerned. It sounds like quite an encroachment on your time, considering the fact that you may not even actually work or get paid. As such, are you entitled to be paid for the time that you’re on call?
What restrictions are required?
If you’re carrying your work phone but you don’t have any restrictions on the way that you live your life, then you may not be entitled to payment for this time. But if there are restrictions, then you may deserve to be paid for on-call hours, even if your boss doesn’t call you into work.
For example, these are three different restrictions that employers will sometimes impose upon on-call employees that result in a need to pay those workers:
- The worker has to stay a certain distance from a specific location so that they can respond in a timely manner.
- The worker is not allowed to drink alcohol while they are on call.
- The worker is not allowed to take another job for a different employee if they are on call.
For example, if you work as a driver and your boss has a high-profile client who is going to be flying in sometime over the weekend, your boss may want you to pick this person up from the airport. You can’t drink because you’ll need to drive the car. You can’t work for someone else because your boss isn’t exactly sure when the flight is coming in, so you have to be immediately available. They may also ask you to wait at the airport or stay within a certain distance so that they can tell you when the plane lands.
In that situation, your boss may have to pay you for your on-call hours because they have drastically changed what you can do with your free time on the weekend. If you haven’t been paid for on-call hours, seeking legal guidance can help you to understand your legal options.