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On Call: Waiting to engage or engaged to wait? Michigan

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  • On Call: Waiting to engage or engaged to wait? Michigan

    Wondering if someone can offer insight as to whether or not the following situation constitutes compensable time (i.e., is the employee waiting to engage or engaged to wait)…

    The employee is a non-exempt graphic designer working at a production firm. The employee works a typical 9-5, 40-hour per week job.

    The employer works with outside vendors and print houses that run 24 hours per day. For one week, every other month, the employee is required to be on call 24 hours per day for a total of one week (in case a print house calls with a problem).

    While on call, the employee is required to respond within ten minutes, and appear on site at their work station in less than one hour. On site time and can last anywhere from 10 minutes to three hours. While on call for the week, the employee is engaged between 0 – 15 times, but averages four or five engagements during the week (but can go up drastically during the shopping season/holidays).

    I understand that the chief concern is whether or not the employee can use their time “as their own” while on call, and this determines whether the employee is engaged to wait (compensable) or waiting to engage (non-compensable).

    Do you deem the situation as compensable, or non-compensable?

  • #2
    noncompensable except for the time that is actually worked. Unless the employer is forcing the employee to stay at work/on location and wait for the calls which doesn't sound to be the case you presented.


    • #3
      Agree. In this day and age of cell phones, it isn't like the employee is stuck home by the phone for a week. As long as they aren't more than an hour from the office, their time is their own.
      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.


      • #4
        Agree. As ElleMD said, in the days of cell phones that keep people reachable anywhere/anytime, the situations where on call time is compensable are becoming rarer and rarer.


        • #5
          Greatly appreciate the insights. The concern is the need to be on site within 60 minutes. The employee has family and friends more than 60 minutes away from work and spends a good deal of her weekends more than an hour from the office. She is contesting that she will need to modify her plans based on these restrictions. No dice?


          • #6
            Nope. It does not become automatically compensable because it is inconvenient.
            The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


            • #7
              Maybe that one week out of 8 or 9, her friends and family need to come and visit her....


              • #8
                Not even close to sufficient restriction. Sufficient restriction is pretty much you have to sit at home by the phone waiting to be called to work. The fact that one week out of 8 or so, the employee can't leave town to visit family is not the employer's problem.


                • #9
                  Court cases have held the "time" factor to be somewhere in the 15-20 minute range to report physically to work. Different courts have used different time ranges, sometimes in the same state. FLSA is a 1930s law and some of the court decisions are 1940s. There are SCOTUS level decisions that requiring staying within 15-20 minutes of work is NOT compensable time.
                  "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                  Philip K. **** (1928-1982)