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On Call 24Hrs a day in Connecticut. Legal?

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  • On Call 24Hrs a day in Connecticut. Legal?

    I have heard different opinions on the subject of on call pay. From what I understand, unless required to be on site, on call hours don't need to be compensated for. Is this correct?

    I am a salary non-exempt employee.
    My work schedule is 6 days on - 2 days off. I record only the hours I'm on site working. There is no schedule, just random work as it comes in. I only call into my office 2 times a day, but I can recieve a call anytime (24Hrs/Day) and be required to be on site in an hour or less. I do recieve compensation for overtime hours (flex pay=close to min wage), but again, can only record hours that I am physically on site. Does this seem to comply with Connecticut regulations?

  • #2
    Your starting point isf federal law (FLSA). The original FLSA law was passed in 1938 and there were a bunch of court cases uncluding a few SCOTUS decisions starting in the 1940s regarding on call. Based on those court decisions and an FLSA regulation (also based on those court decisions), the rules are basically as follows:
    - Hours worked anywhere are hours worked. FLSA does not care about where the hour was worked, so hours worked at home or somewhere other then the work place are still hours worked.
    - On call has a very specific meaning in federal law. It means that the employees time is so "sufficently restricted" to be treated as hours worked even if the employee is not otherwise actually working. The term "suficently restricted" means whatever the courts say it means. Example. Bob is an auto mechanic who is told to report to work but whom the employer does not want to pay until an actual job comes in. If the employer is making Bob stay on site, the employer has "sufficently restricted" Bob's actions to the point that the hours worked line has been crossed. If however the employer is going to give the job to whoever is available and Bob chooses to remain at work to be available, that fails the sufficently restricted test and that is not hours worked.
    - The courts have a "look at all factors" test, so it is hard to look at any one thing, like time to report to work and say that one factor by itself sufficently restricts the employee's own use of the time. However a lot of cases have been decided and many things employers want to count as sufficently restricted legally do not. Staying sober, having to carry a cell phone or pager, being on call, not being allowed to leave town are all examples of things not deemed sufficently restricted. There is no magic number of minutes to report to work that is inherently sufficently restricted, but the smaller the number, the more likely that the sufficently restricted line was crossed.

    Federal law (FLSA) is everywhere. These is nothing any state can do to make it go away. States can have law in addition to (not instead of) which can make the rules more favorable to employees. I am not a CT expert, but I can say that almost all states use the federal on call rules as is and CT is not one of the very few states in which people suggest that tougher laws in this area exist.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


    • #3
      Yes it does. On call time does not need to be paid unless your time is so restricted that you are essentially waiting to work. On site or off site does not matter, though it is very hard to claim on site time need not be compensated. An example would be a mechanic in an auto shop. No one can predict if a car will come in for service or not so the mechanic may be required to be at the shop but have "downtime" between customers. Someone who takes help desk or customer service calls from home where the calls are so frequent as to restrict non-work related activities, even though there may be lulls, would also need to be paid. If you are only being called for emergencies after hours and have an hour to respond, that is not so burdensome or restrictive that you can not go out to eat, engage in hobbies, sleep, etc.
      I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.