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On-Call Wage Minnesota

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  • On-Call Wage Minnesota

    Hi, I am a Police Officer in a small town and I was informed by another officer in a different small town that their city attorney is looking into on-call wage.

    I get paid $1.75/hour for On-call and average 136 hours every pay period (bi-weekly). We definitely qualify for getting paid, that’s not my question. My question is should on-call wage be paid at minimum wage due to the nature of our work and the restrictions on responding to calls because we are stuck at our home waiting for a call to respond to? I understand that this on-call law is fairly vague and I wanted to attack this from another angle if their city attorney decides not to work so fast on this issue.

    Thanks for any and all help!!
    Last edited by CrimLaw; 01-24-2013, 07:26 PM.

  • #2
    I'm not sure how you define "small" but here is the fact sheet appropriate to law enforcement. http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs8.pdf
    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.

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    • #3
      What exactly do you mean by "stuck at home"? Do you mean that literally? You cannot physically leave your house?

      If you just mean that you are stuck in the general area and have to carry a cell phone or pager, the rules may sound vauge but the case law is not. The magic phrase is "sufficently restricted". If you cannot leave the police station, or physically cannot leave your house, you are sufficently restricted and hours worked have occured. If you just have to carry a pager or cell phone, you are not sufficently restricted. If it is somewhere in between there are a bunch of court cases, including some SCOTUS decisions which have created a list of factors that must be weighed. The problem is that these are mostly 1940s rules and all major court decisoins occured a long time. It is very unlikely that your specific situation is all that different from actual hard case law on the subject.
      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
      Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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      • #4
        Thanks for the replies.

        When I mean stuck at home I mean we should be close to the squad car for when we get a call in order to respond promptly. I know the part of being sufficiently restricted would include me, so I understand that I am entitled to pay. My question is if there is a minimum call wage that should be paid out. If hours worked have occurred should that be paid out at minimum wage?

        Thanks!

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        • #5
          I know the part of being sufficiently restricted would include me, so I understand that I am entitled to pay
          How do you know this? Based on what exactly?

          "Sufficently restricted" applies to you if the courts say it applies to you. You have not provided enough information to tell if this is true or not. Per SCOTUS, there is an all factor test, with at least 6 different factors including response time which have to be looked at. There is no one factor which is legally by itself sufficent, although the response time factor is arguably the most important. There have been police officer specific decisions in this area which have been decided on both sides of the 15 minute window, so that is generally the point where things get legally interesting. Like you they all presumably knew that this applied to them, but the courts did not agree with all of them.

          Under law, if your time is sufficently restricted, then it is hours worked. If it is not sufficently restricted, then it is not hours worked. There is nothing in the law that requires a premium for being on call. The original on call regulation and related court decisions where based on fire fighters required to physically stay in fire station while on shift. 1938 law, 1940s regulation and all of the early court cases including a SCOTUS where early 1940s. The law, regulation, and most court cases pre-date cell phones. Sufficently restricted does not mean get a phone call and report to work. It means convincing a court that your time has been so restricrted (in the courts opinion) that it is the same thing as forcing you to stay at work. Every possible argument that an employee can try has been tried. A lot. This is very old, well settled law. The only real problem is the absence of a bright line test (thanks to SCOTUS). An all factors tests leaves a certain amount of discretion to the courts. Sort of like a baseball strike zone. Technically there is one definition everywhere, but umpires all see something a little different in practice.
          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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