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On Call hours, legalities and Compensation Florida

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  • On Call hours, legalities and Compensation Florida

    I work for a tax prep company and due to the lack of business they put us "on call" for the rest of the season. I never agreed to this when i was hired and want to know if this is legal and if i am entitled to any compensation. Here's what i was told in my email

    "Just to let everyone know, these last couple of weeks you will be called in as needed. If you are scheduled for that day please be available within 15 minutes, as you will be called if clients are waiting. Thank you…"

    I live 15 min away and having to sit by my phone fully dressed ready to walk out the door in a moments notice is not what i agreed to.

    Can an employer convert your hours to "on call" if that was never agreed to when hired? I asked whether we would be receiving compensation for this and they said no.

    Is it legal for my employer to fire me for refusing to be on call?

    thx for any help

  • #2
    Unless you have a bona fide employment contract that prohibits it, yes, the terms of employment can be changed at any time.

    Having said that, however, if you are expected to be at the office within 15 minutes of a call, it is likely that the days on which you are scheduled would be compensable.

    Is this a permanent position, or temporary for tax season? There's a reason I'm asking.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


    • #3
      It is a temp position, i am a seasonal tax preparer.

      Further, the expectation is that when a client comes in i will need to be at the office ready to help them with in 15 min yes.

      Thx for getting back to me so soon!


      • #4
        Then here's what I'm going to suggest. Go ahead and do as the employer is requiring. Then when the gig ends, either file a claim with the federal Dept. of Labor (Florida doesn't have one for this purpose) for the hours on the on-call days (less what you actually worked and have been paid for) or a civil suit (small claims would probably work). Keep very detailed records at home, not using the employer's time or equipment to do so.

        Reason I'm mentioning two options is that, although the DOL claim process is free, I've heard anecdotal information that they will pursue only minimum wage for straight time hours worked and not paid. With small claims, you could file for the full hourly wages plus costs.

        Good luck. I think you have a good chance of prevailing either way. But there's no point in jeopardizing the hours you are getting by bringing the issue up at this time.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


        • #5
          Federal DOL enforces the federal FLSA law, and the federal FLSA law controls (mostly) the federal definitions for hours worked, minimum wage, overtime and child labor. Federal DOL will not enforce non-OT amounts in excess of MW because no actual federal law is being broken by the non-payment of those amounts. The feds will also not enforce state labor law, such as higher MW, or daily overtime for those states that have it. We would be talking state law only for a recovery for any amount not covered by FLSA. This would include base wages in excess of MW.

          The following quote is from the FLSA law.

          Section 16 - Penalties
          ... (b) Any employer who violates the provisions of section 6 or section 7 of this Act shall be liable to the employee or employees affected in the amount of their unpaid minimum wages, or their unpaid overtime compensation, as the case may be, and in an additional equal amount as liquidated damages.
          Last edited by DAW; 04-03-2010, 12:55 PM.
          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


          • #6
            Now, it is no longer anecdotal.
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


            • #7
              Sry im trying to understand whats going on... so basicly Federal DOL will only enforce the law up to the MW amount, and that is only the federal MW not my states, (which i think is the same anyway).

              Reason i ask is im probably going to try and find where the law states they are required to pay for on call time due to the nature of the on call time. ANd then present this information to my employer. Im not concerned about causing drama because its a temp job and i know the corporate office will side with me over a frannchisee who is breaking the law.

              thx all the help!


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