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"ON-CALL" Policy - IT Professional California

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  • "ON-CALL" Policy - IT Professional California

    With the recent crunch in the economy, my employer/manager decided to make some modifications to our “ON-CALL” policy… Basically, if a technical issue arises that is not considered a (Severity 1 or 2 - One being really urgent). We are not allowed to work the issue… The concern we have is this, calls come in from various Data Centers, who receives system alerts and company policy states the Data Center must contact the various teams responsible to determine if the issue is critical or not… Not, knowing what the issue is, our cell phones and pagers ring, policy states we respond and determine the severity of the issue… If we feel it is not critical, we refer the Data Center to contact our Manager. Now to my knowledge, I think the purpose of this ON-CALL policy modification is to reduce OVERTIME… And based on CA ON-CALL POLICY LAW, if a technician spends more than 20 minutes determining/trouble-shooting the issue, they are to be paid at a minimum 2.0 hours… Now, since there scenarios where we may be able to determine the issue less than 20 minutes, are we than eligible to claim the minutes worked as possible OVERTIME? For example, we receive a call, we look at the issue at hand, and we determine the possible root-cause or determine there are no issues and it took us 15 minutes. Can we then claim that we worked for 15 minutes? The reason for this questions is because we get called at least 4 to 6 times a night. Each call are below 20 minutes, therefore we are not entitled for the minimum pay of 2.0 hours… But, if you were to tally up the total number of called received at 10 minutes each, that is a total of 40 minutes or 1 hour of OVERTIME pay…

    Full Time / Regular Employee
    IT Professional/Technical Support

  • #2
    If we are talking actual labor law, then there (mostly) is nothing in actual labor law which would entitle the employer to more then hours actually worked. The only real issue is not the one you raised (the government has no interest in your company's two hour rule), but whether or not "on call" as defined by the government (not your company) has actually occurred. This is a very fuzzy sort of situation where the government looks to see whether or not your time has been "sufficiently restricted" according to various court decisions in your jurisdiction.

    Unrelated to that, CA is one of the very few states that has more then a superficial interest in whether or not the employer is actually following their own compensation policies. The sort of argument you raise might have some traction with CA-DLSE (or not).

    Hours actually worked are a sure thing under federal and CA law. On call and company policy arguments are at best "maybes", even in CA.

    Federal on call rules.

    A small part of the CA on call rules, from the CA-DLSE manual: Federal Cases. While there are no reported California state cases directly on point, the federal case of Berry v. County of Sonoma, 30 F.3d 1174 (9th Cir.1994), discusses the problems raised in determining, even under the broader FLSA standard, the proper application of the rule to the factual situation in each case. The County of Sonoma case set out the factors which must be considered in determining whether restrictions placed on employees during on-call hours were so extensive that such time should be deemed “hours worked” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). According to the Court, those factors include: (1) whether there are excessive geographical restrictions on employees’ movements; (2) whether the frequency of calls is unduly restrictive; (3) whether a required response time is unduly restrictive; (4) whether the on call employee can easily trade his or her on-call responsibilities with another employee, and (6) the extent of personal activities engaged in during on-call time. (O.L. 1998.12.28)
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


    • #3
      DAW, I think he is drawing the two hours from the reporting time pay from the DLSE's website on Reporting Time pay.

      I'm afraid I don't have on hand any of the references of the Reporting Time Pay but IIRC it interacts with scheduled on-call differently.


      • #4
        Perhaps, but my understanding is that Reporting Time requires that the employee physically report to work. I have not read anything that responding to cell phone/pager, or working at home triggers Reporting Time. Do you have something that says otherwise?
        "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
        Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


        • #5
          No, I agree with you that I don't think that it applies to the time in question, which is what I meant by saying that I didn't think on call time would count towards that. I was simply trying to clarify for the OP the specifics of the rule he was referencing so it could be discussed. I find conversations go quicker when the question is, "According to reporting time pay, I should get two hours" versus "I think I read somewhere that I'm entitled to Xhours of pay but..."


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