Can an employer make you carry a company phone without compensation for carrying or answering calls?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can an employer make you carry a company phone without compensation for carrying or answering calls?

My boyfriend works for a company that after a year of working is requiring him to carry a company cell phone. This doesn’t sound like a big deal but the purpose in carrying it is to take call offs from the employees directly under him. He isn’t a salaried employee and is expected to do this on days off. He has asked if the managers will be compensated for being on call all the time and nobody answers. I’m just wondering if they cannot only now require him to carry it but if they can do that without compensation.

Asked on August 22, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If he is not salaried but rather is paid on an hourly basis, he must be paid for all time worked--including offsite time, on days off, before and after normal hours; and answering calls from other workers (e.g. the staff he manages) and giving them information, instructions, directions, etc. *is* work. In practice, the law does not require compensation for de minimis, or minimal, time spent working beyond normal working hours--a few minutes, here and there, total per day; but if he works via phone for 10 or more minutes per day, he should legally be paid for that time. 
(Note that only the time spent actually on the phone, talking to co-workers, is work; simply being "on call" or carrying the phone, when not actually working over the phone [i.e. when not on work-related calls], is not work.)
Unfortunately, if the employer chooses to not pay the way they legally should, the only way to get the money would be to either file a complaint with the department of labor or to sue for the money. Bringing a complaint vs. your employer or suing them is a drastic step; it may not worthwhile doing for a few minutes per day of unpaid wages.

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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