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Am I entitled to On-call compensation? Pennsylvani Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina Pennsylvania

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  • Am I entitled to On-call compensation? Pennsylvani Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina Pennsylvania

    I work as the "Lead Mechanical Maintenance Technician" at a Newspaper in Southwestern Pennsylvania. It is a non-union shop.

    I am required to carry an employer-provided cell phone and to respond 24/7/365 (except for some out-of-area vacations) to call-ins for equipment breakdowns.

    I am paid for the time that I am called in to work on emergency breakdowns of the equipment.

    Only one other Maintenance Technician is employed in our department.

    We are required to "share" the cell phone on a two weekend rotation, i.e., he has it for two consecutive weekends, then I have it for two consecutive weekends. I carry it 24 hours, every day on all weekdays.

    We have been instructed that if my co-worker needs assistance, he is to call me for backup. If I need assistance, I am to call him for backup. I personally interpret this that we are both "on-call" constantly?

    My immediate supervisor has always explained to me something vague along the lines that although I'm subject to call in, that I do maintain a right to some level of quality of personal time.

    In over 14 years, I have never failed to respond to a call-in that I have received. I am a very dedicated and conscientious person, and I feel that the livelihood of the ~300 employees of the company depends on me to some degree. I love my job and I want to continue performing my duties to excellence.

    However, I'm uncertain that I'm being treated fairly and legally.

    October 7, my daughter was married. My immediate supervisor, my co-worker, and I, all three totally forgot that my co-worker was scheduled for vacation on the wedding day... I told my supervisor that the plant would simply be without mechanical maintenance emergency coverage for the wedding day. When my immediate supervisor relayed this information up the authority chain, the "SHTF". My department executive and the Production Department executive insisted that I be on call. I complied, carrying and checking the cell phone constantly throughout the wedding day and the wedding reception.

    It doesn't seem logical that I can be absolutely required to be "on-call" for absolutely no compensation.

    I feel that my "quality of life" is severely impacted by being required to be on-call nearly constantly.


    The questions:

    1. Am I, or, are we, entitled to "on-call" compensation?

    2. Do I want to consider Federal law, or Pennsylvania law, in asking this question?

    3. Who do I ask, and how do I ask whether I am correctly entitled to "on-call" compensation?

    4. What are the implications of retaliation from the employer?

    Thanks in advance,

    Jerry.
    Last edited by JerryinPA; 10-17-2006, 08:03 AM.

  • #2
    None

    Nothing illegal that I can see there. It's a bad policy on the part of your employer and you may wish to get a better job if that is what you want, but nothing is illegal.

    Of course, just because something is LEGAL doesn't mean that it is "The thing to do". I would say, making you call-in on that special day was a socially incorrect thing on the part of your employer.

    Comment


    • #3
      I am sure Patty will chime in on this one, but if your activities while on call are not severely limited, the employer is not required to compensate you.

      On the other hand, if the employer requires that you remain at home or whatever other great restrictions can be dreamed up, then some compensation should be paid. This need not be at your regular rate of pay. I am unsure whether the rate of pay could be below minimum wage or, since you aren't actually working, if OT rules apply.

      Sorry that the powers that be put you on call during the wedding. Since you didn't mention it, I guess you did not get called, which is great.
      Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ScottB View Post
        I am sure Patty will chime in on this one, but if your activities while on call are not severely limited, the employer is not required to compensate you.

        On the other hand, if the employer requires that you remain at home or whatever other great restrictions can be dreamed up, then some compensation should be paid. This need not be at your regular rate of pay. I am unsure whether the rate of pay could be below minimum wage or, since you aren't actually working, if OT rules apply.

        Sorry that the powers that be put you on call during the wedding. Since you didn't mention it, I guess you did not get called, which is great.
        Hi Scott;

        Thanks for your input, although obviously it's not what I was expecting.

        Also, thanks for your sympathy to me for being required to be on-call during the daughter's wedding. You are correct in that, No, I didn't get called. However, my personal feeling is that being on call during the event "severely limited" me. The wife's "heart jumped to her throat" every time she saw me checking the phone for a message... it was cruel to her as well as to me.

        But actually, I have an even better one.... Four or five years ago, on the very last day of Pennsylvania's Whitetail deer hunting season, while I was on regularly scheduled vacation, we buried my favorite uncle. I was honored to be a pall-bearer. As we sat at the family meal immediately following the interrment, I was paged. Although I was anticipating an afternoon of solemn, quiet, private reflection up on the local mountain ridges, I had to go to work to change a drive belt. The "punch line of this joke" is that I was told that I needed to come in since another fellow who shared maintenance duties on this particular machine "didn't offer to change the belt".

        I guess I'm stupid... I should have gone job hunting that day. Maybe I'm just so dumb that I don't even deserve your sympathy!

        Jerry.

        Comment


        • #5
          Been There

          I feel for you. I was in that same job for over 15 years and left last year.

          Once, I was in a car accident on the way to a call (I was stopped at a light and a fallen asleep driver hit me in the rear). Whiplash and all, I had to go in to my call, they were unable to have anyone else do it.

          Be the one who answers the phone and get punished for it! And there are always others that don't answer the phone or can't get there, but in the end, they aren't at the job 15 years later.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by JerryinPA View Post
            Thanks for your input, although obviously it's not what I was expecting.
            I don't know what you were expecting. I call them like I see them.

            Originally posted by JerryinPA View Post
            Also, thanks for your sympathy to me for being required to be on-call during the daughter's wedding. You are correct in that, No, I didn't get called. However, my personal feeling is that being on call during the event "severely limited" me. The wife's "heart jumped to her throat" every time she saw me checking the phone for a message... it was cruel to her as well as to me.
            I suspect that the US Dept of Labor would not call this a severe restriction, but it was certainly stressful on you and your wife. I guess the only good news is that your daughter was blissfully unaware of the problem. Darn shame you went through that.

            Originally posted by JerryinPA View Post
            I guess I'm stupid... I should have gone job hunting that day. Maybe I'm just so dumb that I don't even deserve your sympathy!
            Jerry, you do deserve my sympathy and the fact that you have not gone job hunting, but gave years of service to your employer is good and not an indication you are stupid.

            I am not ready to shoot your employer. They are used to you being at their beck and call all the time and you are finally figuring out that this is above and beyond the call of duty.

            You could and should have a little heart-to-heart talk with someone in authority about spreading out the on call duties, if such is possible, or giving you some sort of compensation for being on-call, even when you are not severely restricted in your personal activities. While the law does not require them to do that, it does not prohibit it, either. I would GLADLY accomodate a dependable employee for extra service rather than roll the dice and find a replacement who, odds are, won't be anything close to the employee you are.

            I hope this helps. Good luck!
            Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ScottB View Post
              I don't know what you were expecting. I call them like I see them.

              Scott, I meant that I was expecting the law to be different... please, please don't take offense that I misworded this.

              I suspect that the US Dept of Labor would not call this a severe restriction, but it was certainly stressful on you and your wife. I guess the only good news is that your daughter was blissfully unaware of the problem. Darn shame you went through that.

              Scott, I guess I need to get to the bottom of what defines a "severe restriction" in the eyes of the DOL. Sadly, the wife did tell the daughter that I may just have to drop out at any moment... I mention the wedding only for dramatic emphasis of my predicament. I feel that the far greater stressor on me is that I'm on call constantly. Even if the one other fellow has the cell phone, I'm expected to back him up. I think I'm under psychological "withering fire", and that is what I feel to be the "severe restriction".

              Jerry, you do deserve my sympathy and the fact that you have not gone job hunting, but gave years of service to your employer is good and not an indication you are stupid.

              Again, thanks for the compliment.

              I am not ready to shoot your employer. They are used to you being at their beck and call all the time and you are finally figuring out that this is above and beyond the call of duty.

              And here perhaps you've hit the mark! My co-worker and I often remark to one another just how "spoiled" we have them... yes, we are "finally figuring out that this is above and beyond the call of duty". Too bad that the specifics of the law don't seem to recognize the "above and beyond" part.

              You could and should have a little heart-to-heart talk with someone in authority about spreading out the on call duties, if such is possible, or giving you some sort of compensation for being on-call, even when you are not severely restricted in your personal activities. While the law does not require them to do that, it does not prohibit it, either. I would GLADLY accomodate a dependable employee for extra service rather than roll the dice and find a replacement who, odds are, won't be anything close to the employee you are.

              Yes, I think that the "little heart-to-heart" is on the way. I'm at the point of doing my homework on all of this right now.... I don't want to go into it "half-****ed".

              I hope this helps. Good luck!
              And yes, you are helping me more than you can possibly know!

              Thanks,

              Jerry.

              Comment

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