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On-call question for Florida VA employee District of Columbia Florida

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  • On-call question for Florida VA employee District of Columbia Florida

    My wife works at a VA Hospital in Florida and when she started there was no on-call for staff. Recently, the hospital has now implemented a "voluntary" on-call policy and this is soon to become mandatory.

    Typically, anyone in an "on-call" position must live within 30 minutes commuting distance of the hospital, but we live more than an hour away, which was not an issue since there was no on-call policy at the time she was hired.

    My questions are as follows:

    1. Can the VA now require her to be "on call," given it was not a condition of employment at the time she was hired?
    2. If the policy becomes mandatory, is the VA required to pay overtime for her for travel time to and from the hospital if she is on call and paged to go to work? (note: all on-call time is in addition to the staff's regular full-time work schedule).
    3. Is the VA required to pay mileage to and from the hospital if she is required to go to work other than during her regularly scheduled shift?
    4. Is the VA require to provide a "safe and secure" environment for on-call staff to sleep if it is not feasible or safe for her to drive all the way back home if mandated to be at work as part of an on-call team?
    5. If on-call becomes mandatory, is the VA required to pay staff an hourly fee to simply be on-call and available?

    Anyone on-call that is paged would be required to physically drive to the VA. It is not an issue of telephone support.

    I would appreciate input from anyone with expertise in this area and thank you in advance...
    Last edited by jimt4696; 07-25-2007, 11:18 AM. Reason: bad headline

  • #2
    I know the general federal on-call rules (see below). I do not know if the VA falls under some type of governmental employer exception. FL other then higher-then-federal minimum wage is generally considered to be a just-like-federal state. I am not a FL expert, but it is not very likely that FL has non-federal on-call rules. As always, someone will jump in if they know something I do not.

    For federal rules only, there are several DOL regulations affecting on-call.
    - Employees who must be on-call on the employer's premises or close enough to seriously curtail their use of the time for their own purposes must be paid for the time spent on-call. But employees who merely have to leave word where they can be reached are not working while on call. (29 CFR 785.17).
    - Employees must be paid for unproductive time if that time is spent for the employer's benefit (29 CFR 785.7).
    - If an employee has been called back to work, you must also pay for his travel time because his time is no longer under his own control once he receives the call back to work. If he works from home, only the time actually spent working has to be paid for. (29 CFR 785.33-785.41).
    - The regular hourly rate of pay of an employee is determined by dividing his total remuneration for employment . . . in any workweek by the total number of hours actually worked by him in that workweek for which such compensation was paid. On call pay causes the regular rate of pay to change. (29 CFR 778.109)

    ------
    1. Can the VA now require her to be "on call," given it was not a condition of employment at the time she was hired? Sure, absent a contract or CBA.
    2. If the policy becomes mandatory, is the VA required to pay overtime for her for travel time to and from the hospital if she is on call and paged to go to work? (note: all on-call time is in addition to the staff's regular full-time work schedule). Maybe, see above.
    3. Is the VA required to pay mileage to and from the hospital if she is required to go to work other than during her regularly scheduled shift? No. The law does not care about things like shifts.
    4. Is the VA require to provide a "safe and secure" environment for on-call staff to sleep if it is not feasible or safe for her to drive all the way back home if mandated to be at work as part of an on-call team?Not under labor law. It is perfectly legal for most employers to require their employers to work 24/7. Maybe OSHA.
    5. If on-call becomes mandatory, is the VA required to pay staff an hourly fee to simply be on-call and available?No.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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    • #3
      Please keep in mind that FLSA is not applicable to federal employees. The particular federal agency follows FLSA guidance from Office Personnel Management (OPM) which gets itís authority from some USC 5?? or something like that, not from FLSA. Additionally, there is most likely a CBA in place. The employee should contact his/her HR department or look for the specific USC 5?? that is applicable to the VA.
      ========================================

      "A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to The 'United States of America', for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'" (Author unknown)

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