Calling out sick

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Calling out sick

I work as a marriage and family therapist Intern for a foster family agency. My employer requires me to contact clients on my personal time, from my personal phone to inform clients when I am out sick. Is this legal? After receiving a

Asked on January 9, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, this is legal. An employer can require its employees let clients know when they are out sick; and an employer can require that the employee use his/her personal phone; they can also have you do this outside of your typical or normal work hours. Employers can put essentially any terms or conditions they like on employment; if you don't want to work under them, your recourse is to seek other employment.
If you are an hourly employee, however, you must be paid for the time spent contacting clients, even if it occurs outside of normal working hours: anything the employer requires you to do for its purposes or benefit is "work" and you must be compensated for it if hourly. (If you are salaried, they do not, however, owe you additonal pay; your weekly salary is your total compensation for all work done during the week.) Theoretially, if not paid for the time spent calling clients to inform them that you are sick, you could contact the state department of labor to file a wage and hour complaint; as a practical matter, it is unlikely to be worth filing a complaint against your employer for the amount of time and money involved.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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