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On-call laws in Arkansas

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  • On-call laws in Arkansas

    I am a non-exempt IT employee in Arkansas. I am also a part-time college student. When I first got my job, there was no mention of being on-call. About three months after getting the job, I was placed on an on-call rotation with three other employees, something I had no problem with. I have the phone for one week out of every four, and I must be within "a reasonable distance" (they sidestep every time I ask them to define "reasonable") of the plant and must answer any call within 10 minutes. Let me go over some situations that I have had since:

    1) I received a call during a mid-term in class that I could not leave. I received 4 more calls on both my personal phone and the company phone before the test was over. I was verbally reprimanded for not answering, even though leaving the test would have meant sure failure of the class.

    2) I often leave town on weekends that I am not on call to go out with friends. I went to a basketball game with my fiancee in a town 1 1/2 hours away while I was not on call. I received a call from my boss right after halftime and had to stay on the phone with him to walk through a repair procedure until the game was over. I missed the last half of the game and this ruined the trip for both of us.

    3) Last night, again while not on call, I went out to a movie with some friends and turned my personal phone off. I had some drinks afterward (though I did not get drunk) and forgot to turn my phone back on until going to bed at 11pm. I found that I had two voicemails, both from my boss, saying that they needed my help. They were left at 5pm and 6pm and I figured that I was too late and went to sleep. This morning, I was again verbally reprimanded by my boss and told that I now must keep my pager on me at all times so that he may get in touch with me.

    Is this legal? By keeping the pager within earshot at all times, does this not make me an exempt employee?

    Thanks in advance to everyone.

    Last edited by bstinchcomb; 02-11-2008, 11:00 AM.

  • #2
    The following are the federal on-call regulations effecting Non-Exempt employees. Carrying a cell phone or pager by itself is not compensible. The key phrase is "seriously curtail", which federal DOL has historically narrowly interrepted. I will also leave a webpointer to the major Exempt classification rules, none of which mention pagers.

    - Employees who must be on-call on the employer's premises or close enough to seriously curtail their use of the time for their own purposes must be paid for the time spent on-call. But employees who merely have to leave word where they can be reached are not working while on call. (29 CFR 785.17).
    - Employees must be paid for unproductive time if that time is spent for the employer's benefit (29 CFR 785.7).
    - If an employee has been called back to work, you must also pay for his travel time because his time is no longer under his own control once he receives the call back to work. If he works from home, only the time actually spent working has to be paid for. (29 CFR 785.33-785.41).
    - The regular hourly rate of pay of an employee is determined by dividing his total remuneration for employment . . . in any workweek by the total number of hours actually worked by him in that workweek for which such compensation was paid. On call pay causes the regular rate of pay to change. (29 CFR 778.109)
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


    • #3
      So they can make changes to my job duties (carrying the pager at all times, etc) at any moment without my acceptance? All I have got since signing on this job a year and a half ago is a small raise, hardly compensation for this responsibility. In fact, had I known then what I know now, I wouldn't have even accepted this job.

      Thanks again!


      • #4
        Unless you have a bona fide, enforceable employment contract prohibiting such a change without your "approval", yes, they may, going forward. Your "acceptance" is continuing to work there.
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