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Thread: Nurses forced "on call" from scheduled shift & unpaid -Florida

  1. #1
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    Default Nurses forced "on call" from scheduled shift & unpaid -Florida

    Hi

    A relative is a nurse in a hospital here in Florida with a weekly schedule. Occasionally they are overstaffed, and will call nurses before their scheduled shift to tell them "We're putting you on call today." They don't ask for volunteers. They just tell them they're on call now. Then they are supposed to be available to come in if it gets busy later in the day.

    Worst is that they don't pay the nurses for this "put on call" time. My relative should be free to enjoy this unpaid time as she pleases, but cannot go to the beach or a movie etc because they likely will call at any random time and tell her to come in. On top of this, as I understand it, they sometimes just deplete some of the nurse's PTO paid time off and pay them that way, though I think that's not really paying them, since PTO is separate earned time off for vacations etc, not forced time on-call.

    This sounds wrong and illegal to me in multiple ways, though I don't have any real knowledge of these things. Can a nurse even be called off of their scheduled shift, and put on call at the will of the hospital, even though it's not an on-call position?
    If they can, would't they have still to pay them (not PTO hours) since
    a) it was a scheduled shift and/or
    b) they cannot travel wherever they like because they need to be available to come in if it gets busier?

    Any feedback on this would be appreciated
    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Nothing you have posted is illegal or against wage laws. No they do not have to pay and yes they can use her PTO

  3. #3
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    FLSA is a 1938 law and most of the court decisions in this area are not new. If the employee must physically appear at work within 15 minutes of being called, the employee MIGHT have a case. But this is very old law here, where the SCOTUS says that a whole bunch of factors most be looked at. It is legally difficult to find a situation which must be paid.

    PTO/vacation is worse. There is no such thing as PTO/vacation under federal law.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

  4. #4
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    Wow that's shocking. I thought for sure there had to be some law against this. I hope we will one day pass new laws to limit this kind of thing. Maybe some states already have them. It seems that if an employer can limit an employees freedom to do as they wish for any period of time, they should be forced to pay some reasonable percentage of their normal hourly rate. Without reasonable pay, it seems somewhat like being a prisoner in your own home.

    Well thanks for the info guys!

  5. #5
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    What many Americans don't realize is that the US is one of the most employee-unfriendly countries in the developed world.

  6. #6
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    And Florida is one of the least employee-friendly state in the US.

    However, even in my state, which is one of the most employee-friendly states in the US, your relative would not have to be paid for being on call. In my state IF she came in to work and was sent home, she would probably (not definitely, but probably) be owed 3 hours pay, but that's about it. More states don't have "reporting time" pay laws than do, and Florida does not. Multiple courts in multiple states have ruled that not being able to travel or drink alcohol (which you didn't mention but is frequently brought up with this issue) does not sufficiently limit an employee's time to make it compensable.

    it seems somewhat like being a prisoner in your own home.

    No one is saying she can't leave the house. All she has to do is make sure she has her cell phone with her, and answer it if she gets called in.
    Last edited by cbg; 08-27-2017 at 12:09 PM.
    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. #7
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    The reality of today's cell phone technology is that it's pretty rare a situation can so restrict an employee on call's activity that it's turned into compensable time. Unless you have to sit in the house by your phone, or as DAW said, be ready to appear in a very short window of time.

    And there is nothing illegal about telling employees they are not needed for their scheduled shift. My sister is also a nurse and it happens to her fairly often.

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