If you are changed from a salary to hourly pay rate, can you still expected to be on-call?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If you are changed from a salary to hourly pay rate, can you still expected to be on-call?

My gir friend is the general manager for a fast food franchisee. She has been on salary as a general manager for 6 years. Now the company is making all salaried managers (not just her), hourly in order to avoid some kind of new law requiring salaried workers to get paid a certain amount, so since they can’t afford to do that they are doing this. However, they still expect her to be on-call all day everyday in case something needs addressed at the store or if an employee doesn’t show for shift she usually receives 2 to 3 calls a day on average that she must address and she has to come in and cover about once a week on 1 of her days off. While she was salary, I could understand them requiring her to do so but now that she is hourly, does she legally have to be on-call like that without getting paid for being on call? Is it legal for them to change them from salary to hourly like that? Can they legally fire her for not coming in if it’s her day off and a shift has to be covered? Also, they changed her pay she will now be making less almost 5k less a year, is that legal?

Asked on April 9, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, it is legal to change an employee from salary to hourly (or vice versa). It is also legal to reduce an employee's pay or compensation.
2) An hourly employee can be on call. If she comes in to work (e.g. to cover for someone) she must be paid for her time spent working (including  overtime, if she works more than 40 hours in a week); and if she spends more than a few minutes on the phone resolving an issue by phone, she should be paid for that time, too. (Working remotely, including by phone, is still work; the law accepts that employees may need to take a quick phone call or two without being paid for the time, but if it does beyond that, they should be paid for their time spent working via phone.)
3) She can be terminated if she refuses to come in when called to come in--even if it's her day off; the employer, not the employee, determines when the employee must work.

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