Under what circumstances must my employer compensate me for being on call?

UPDATED: Apr 21, 2011

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Under what circumstances must my employer compensate me for being on call?

My employer requires me to have my phone on me at all time when not at work. He stated that if he calls and either we don’t answer or don’t return the call in a reasonable amount of time we can be written up or terminated because he may need me to report to work immediately. I work in private security and carry a firearm at work so I have to consider my off duty activities (drinking alcohol, distance from work) when not at work in case a situation should arise where my employer calls me in. At what point does my employer have to compensate me for being on call?

Asked on April 21, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If an employee must be on-call outside of the work place, then they may have to be paid pay for those hours. If the employee has constraints placed on them such that they have little/no control of such time (ie they cannot use for their own enjoyment/benefit) then that employee should be paid. Generally, the more restrictions that are on an employee, the more likely it is that they should be paid.

Some considerations as to whether not this time that should be compensated are:

  • The amount of calls that an employee gets while on call: the more the more likely the time must bre paid especially if any of the calls require the employee to report to work or give advice or over the phone.
  • The amount of time in which the employee has to respond after receiving a call. The more immediat the employee's response the greater the likelihood that they are entitled to compensation.
  • Any geographical limitations as to where an employee can go while on call. Employees who must stay within a limited distance from work are more likely is is that they need to be paid for their time.
  • Restrictions as to what an employee can/cannot do while on call. For example, a ban on alcohol. If such is the case, an employer will likely have to pay for this time.

For further information, you can contact the department of labor in your state.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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