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Thread: Hourly employees required to carry mobile office in Mass Massachusetts

  1. #1
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    Default Hourly employees required to carry mobile office in Mass Massachusetts

    I work in a call center that does emergency dispatch of sales reps for fire and flood damage. We are required ( hourly employees ) to carry cell phones and lap top's in case of a situation during off hour's. A call for instance may come in at 3:00 AM in which case your cell phone will ring every 30 seconds for 5 min. You then need to go on line access the incoming email giving the details of the situation. Then using the company data base call the appropriate rep within that geographical area and dispatch the call. One hour later you must contact the customer as well as the company rep to be sure the situation is being responded too. This is all done without compensation. Is this allowed in Mass??

  2. #2
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    The question you're asking is, I believe, is this "on-call" or "stand-by" time compensable. There is no "bright line" for on-call time. The overall standard is whether that time beig used for personal activites is "severely restricted". Since you are being called on a cell phone, theoretically, you could be anywhere, doing anything, during this time. And you need to be near a computer, but with laptops and hot spots, this also could be nearly anywhere.

    You can contact the AG's office (which serves as the Dept. of Labor in your state) and ask. The devil is always in the details in these situations.

  3. #3
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    Certainly the time from when the phone rings to the final customer/rep call is compensable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRed View Post
    Certainly the time from when the phone rings to the final customer/rep call is compensable.

    Absolutely. Guess I thought the poster was talking about the "let's wait to see if I get a call" time.

  5. #5
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    You should also contact the federal Labor Dept-Wage Hour Div in you state. Work is work whether you are restricted or not. The time on the phone call and or computer for the incoming email giving the details of the situation is work time. It may be at home as you claim or the mall. It’s still work time. It may be one minute or 30 minutes, still work time. Then the one hr later could be engage to wait-or waiting to be engage. This could be work time or not. The call to the costumer is also work time. You are working on behalf of your employer, it may be very minimal but it could also be very substantial. The only issue would be the time in between to the initial work and the call to the costumer, the one hr wait.

    Unless your state has anything in engage to wait-or waiting to be engage you should contact the federal Labor Department who has an engage to wait-or waiting to be engage rule.

    Under federal wage laws, employees required to remain on-call on the employer’s premises – or so close to the premises that they can’t use the time effectively for their own purposes - are working while on-call and must be compensated for the time. The law characterizes such time as “hours worked” because the employee is “engaged to wait” for the employer’s benefit. In these situations, the employer must also count on-call hours when calculating hrs worked or any overtime due for the workweek.

    On the other hand, if employees are merely required to carry a cell phone, pager or beeper, or to leave word with the employer about where they may be reached, the on-call time generally will not count as compensable “hours worked” under wage and hour laws. If the employee is not unduly restricted and is able to use the time for personal pursuits, the law considers this “waiting to be engaged.”

    Courts will consider a number of factors in determining whether or not an employee can effectively use time spent on call for personal purposes. These factors include:

    Whether an employee is required to remain on the employer’s premises;
    Whether an employee is subject to excessive geographical restriction;
    Whether the employer imposes an unduly restrictive time limit to respond to a call;
    Whether the use of a pager can ease restrictions on the employee;
    Whether the frequency of calls is unduly restrictive;
    Whether an employee can easily trade on-call shifts; and
    Whether the employee actually engages in personal activities during the on-call time.

    No single factor is determinative; courts examine all of the facts and circumstances in determining whether an employee is unduly restricted and therefore the time counts as hours worked.
    It is important to keep in mind that being able to use the time for one’s own purposes doesn’t necessarily mean the employee has to have the same level of freedom normally enjoyed during non-working hours. For example, courts have held that requiring an employee to refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages during on-call periods does not, by itself, make the time compensable.

    Of course, even when the time spent on-call does not count as work hours, the employer must pay for work performed when the employee is actually called to duty. And if these calls are too frequent – say five calls during an eight-hour on-call period – the employee probably can’t effectively use the time between calls for personal activities, and the employer should pay for the entire period.

    Whether waiting time is hours worked under the Act depends upon the particular circumstances. Generally, the facts may show that the employee was engaged to wait (which is work time) or the facts may show that the employee was waiting to be engaged (which is not work time). –Fact Sheet #22

    On-Call Time: An employee who is required to remain on call on the employer's premises is working while "on call." An employee who is required to remain on call at home, or who is allowed to leave a message where he/she can be reached, is not working (in most cases) while on call. Additional constraints on the employee's freedom could require this time to be compensated. –Fact Sheet #22
    ========================================

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