Can my boss refuse to pay me for time worked while on call?

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2010

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Can my boss refuse to pay me for time worked while on call?

My employer provided me with a cellphone and said that I must be on call between the hours of 9pm and Midnight, meaning I have to either be on campus or within 10-15 minutes of campus. I also must answer every call, and will only get paid if I have to go to work. I always get calls at least 3-4 calls I am on time, often which do not require me to come to the office. Since I am not at the regular location, she says we will not get paid for that time we are on call and encourages employees to call us and demands they have the same access to me as normal business hours.

Asked on September 15, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

1) If you are simply available to be called, even with a work cellphone, that is not necessarily work time; however--

2) If you are restricted to where you can be--e.g. have to w/in 10 - 15 minutes of campus, that restriction on your mobility and what you must do might then be enough to make it compensible work time. In addition,

3) Working offsite is still working. Time actually spent on work calls is work time and needs to be compensated unless it's truly de minims. Whether it's de minimis is a question of fact, but 3 - 4 calls, if each lasts more than a minute or so, is probably not--you probably need to be paid for the aggregate time. Note again that physical location does not determine whether it is work or not.

From what you write, you should probably consult with an employment attorney, who can evaluate your situation in depth and advise as to whether you might have a claim for unpaid wages and/or other damages.

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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