Paying employees overtime for on-call work

Some Texas employees who work on-call shifts may be eligible for overtime pay. As evidenced by a court case in Ohio, however, there can be some confusion regarding when that overtime pay is required. The judge in that case found that a nurse who was on call throughout the weekend should have been paid overtime even though she didn't work the entire 48 hours that she was on call.

The nurse worked an on-call shift every other weekend. This was in addition to her usual work week. She was paid her regular rate for the on-call time, but she argued that she should have been given overtime. The hospital argued that since the nurse was not working for the entire 48 hours, this was not warranted. The court disagreed. First, it argued that it was compensable time since the hospital paid her the regular rate.

Second, it looked at the amount of time the nurse spent working and what her tasks were during that time. She averaged around 25.4 hours of work including listening to messages, seeing patients and reviewing reports. The court ruled that a person who is on call but able to engage in personal activities may not be eligible for overtime. However, if the on-call shift is so restrictive that the person cannot reasonably engage in personal activities, as was the case here, overtime should be paid. The nurse was also eligible for liquidated damages since the employer's action was willful.

Someone who has questions about whether they are entitled to overtime pay might want to consult an attorney. Employees are often unaware of their rights, and sometimes employers are as well. An attorney could explain to an employee what documentation may be needed, what kind of claim may be filed and how to go about it.

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