When you do work for your employer, you expect to get paid. But what if your employer requires you to be at the workplace to wait for a call to perform a task? If your employer fails to pay you for your time at work, you may wonder if you have a case for unpaid wages.
On-call time falls under the category of compensable time and is subject to the jurisdiction of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The U.S. Department of Labor explains when an employer must pay you for on-call time.
On-call time at work
To receive payment for on-call time, the government must consider you to be at work. You have to be on the work premises or the employer must have imposed certain restrictions on your freedom. If your employer wants you to be on call while at home or at another location that is not at a workplace, you likely do not qualify for wages.
Other waiting periods
Even if you are not formally on call, you may have periods where you are on the work premises but are not actually working. If you are “engaged to wait,” meaning you are in a situation where you could have to start work at any time, such as a fireman waiting at a fire station for an alarm, your employer would have to pay you.
If you are at work to attend training, the situation may be different. If you need to be present for a lecture or a training program, federal law may not count it as work time if you do it outside the normal working hours, if it is not related to your job, you volunteer to it, and you do not perform any work during the training.
Be aware of your rights
Some employers engage in wage theft, and unfortunately, it may be easier to deprive you of wages when you are not working but on-call or waiting to work. Know that employment law extends protections even for periods of inactivity, so the law may be on your side if you suspect your employer is withholding wages from you.