Can I be forced to be on call 12 hours a day for 7 consecutive days?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I be forced to be on call 12 hours a day for 7 consecutive days?

I work from home in MA[ my employer HQ is in CA. I have been employed for 15 years here. They have rcently shifted their focus of business where all salaried employees are now being forced to, multiple times a year, be on call for split shifts between the U.S. and another country. Each country takes a 12 hour shift. The hours are inflexible, each country takes 6 am-6 pm in their respective time zone, this covers a 24 hour period. The U.S. employees are expected to cover 6 am-6 pm PST, regardless of what timezone they live in. I live in EST so this makes it 9 am-9 pm, basically my entire day. And this is mandated to be Mon-Sun, 7 consecutive days. We do not get any compensation outside of our regular salary. Being on call, it is expected that our regular duties will be secondary to the on-call duty and there may not be on call work to perform during the entire 12 hour shift. Normal hours are 8-5. While on call, we are required to be available via mobile device not supplied by employer in order to respond to an oncall ticket within 15 minutes of it being sent. We must be within range of our laptops company owned with a means to securely connect to the work network this means we must have internet. I feel highly taken advantage of and am contemplating resigning. I would like to know if what they are doing is legal. This is a very large corporation and my complaints of this new work schedule has fallen upon deaf ears. Is there anything I can do from a legal standpoint?

Asked on December 13, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an employment contract or union agreement that prevents you from being scheduled for these hours? Does your treatment have to do with some form of legally actionable discrimination? If not, then you have no claim here. The fact is that most work relationhips are "at will". This means that a business can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit. This includes setting the hours that you have described. As for compensation for on call work, it depends. Such time is compensable even if they are not actually working but are restricted to a certain location and are unable to engage in their normal "off the clock" activities. In your case, it appears that you cannot travel far from home. On the face of it, you may have a claim here for additional compensation. At this point, you need to get more information from your state's department of labor and/or consult directly with a local employment law attorney who can best advise you further. 

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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