Should I be paid for time I’m on-call?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Should I be paid for time I’m on-call?

I work in tourism, and on certain days I’m listed as ‘on-call’, meaning I won’t know if I’m working often until the morning of the tour itself. However, this means that I can’t make any plans for the day of, or really do anything the evening before, because I won’t find out until 8am if I have a tour but I have to be at work by 9:15 am and I live an hour away, so I have to be awake in ready in case there’s a tour. My husband also works in tourism,but they let him know the day before by 4:00 pm if he’ll have a tour the next day, and if they let him know after 8:00 pm the day before, he gets a bonus.

Asked on April 5, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

An employee is entitled to be paid for any hours over which they have little or no control. In other words, for time they cannot spend as they want. The more restrictions placed on them, the more likely that they are entitled to be compensated. Numerous factors are considered by the courts: (1) how many calls the employee gets while on call; (2) how long does the employee have to respond to the call (the sooner they must respond, the stronger the argument that they should be paid for their time); (3) where can the employee go while on call (if they must stay within a limited distance from work, the they are entitled to be paid); and (4) what the employee can do while on-call; the more rules their employer sets for them (i.e. such as a banning alcohol), then the greater the chance that the worker will have to be paid. If you believe that your rights are being violated, you can contact your the Department of Industrial Relations for further information or conatact a local employment law attorney. 

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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