Can your employer expect you to be on-call even though it is not written anywhere

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can your employer expect you to be on-call even though it is not written anywhere

I am an exempt employee. My employer is expecting me to work during a holiday and
I am unable to work due to travel plans. Working during the holiday was scheduled
2 days in advance and after I booked my travel plans. There is nothing in the
employee manual or onboarding document that states this requirement. My employer
has verbally told me his expectation is for me to be available during the

Can I be fired for this. Am I obligated to work even though this policy is
nowhere in writing?

Asked on November 20, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are under a misapprehension: that employment policies must be in writing to be enforceable against employees. Unfortunately, that is not the law: unless you have a written contract which specifies your schedule or when you must be available or on-call, your employer has the right to require you to work or be available whenever they want you to (and can change policies at will), and failure to work or be on-call when required would certainly be grounds for termination.
There is also on requirement that employees be treated equally or fairly, so the owners can let their wives out of working while requiring you to do so, and that is legal.

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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