Can an employer mandate that you are reachable on a personal phone outside of working hours?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can an employer mandate that you are reachable on a personal phone outside of working hours?

I was hired as an hourly employee with set working hours M-F, 40 hours a week. If there is a sudden increase in work volume over the weekend in another department, we may be asked to assist but it is not required. Recently, my employer mandated that if asked to work we must respond within 2 hours of the request a yes is not required. The requests are made via automated calls and texts to our personal phones. If we do not respond within 2 hours we face being placed on corrective action. If we are unable to respond we are supposed to give our manager an explanation. Is this legal? I was not hired as an on-call employee and they are essentially requiring that I am reachable by a personal cell phone at all times or that I divulge private non-work related details to my manager if I am unable to respond. My concern is that there are plenty of reasons why I may not be reachable on my personal phone for 2 hours at a time on a weekend and I do not feel like I should have to account for my personal time when I am outside of work.

Asked on November 19, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your employer can mandate that you be reachable on your personal cell phone after working hours. The fact is that a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. This is true as long as its actions does not violate the terms of an employment contract or union agreement. Additionally, it must not constitute some form of legally actionable discrimnination or retaliation. For your part, you can either comply with this policy, refuse but risk termination, or quit. Note, to the extent that this on-call time results in your perfroming compensable work, you must be paid for it and, tot he extent that it puts you over 40 hours in your work week, you're entitled to be paid overtime rates. 

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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