In some cases, employers must compensate hourly employees for time spent on call in North Carolina. The courts make this decision on a case-by-case basis, though, because not all on-call employees fall under this rule. If you have severe restrictions that prevent you from using your time as you would like while on call, your employer might have to pay you for on-call time.
Phil Gibbons at Gibbons Leis, PLLC can help you understand your right to fair pay, and recover the wages your employer owes you. Call us today at 704-612-0038 if you have questions about the North Carolina laws surrounding on-call time.
What Does On-Call Time Mean?
Every company has different policies for how they handle on-call time for employees. Some on-call workers must remain onsite or within a mile or less of their job while they are on call. Some need to be able to reach their office or other location within a very limited time period after a call. In general, the more limitations your employer puts on you during your on-call time, the higher likelihood you should receive compensation for your time.
For example, doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel may need to stay in a certain area of the hospital or the hospital campus, and firefighters may need to remain at the firehouse while on call.
These workers can do some tasks for their own benefit, but this is usually severely limited because they cannot leave the premises. They can read a book, take a course online, take a nap, or even watch a movie. However, they cannot run errands or complete other necessary tasks. Most of these workers, if hourly employees, should receive compensation for their on-call time.
On the other hand, someone tasked with emergency maintenance at a health club may simply need to carry his cell phone while on call and be able to reach the facility within 45 minutes to an hour if needed. This worker could reasonably work around his house, run personal errands, and do other tasks as long as he could respond quickly and lived reasonably close to work. He probably would not receive pay for his on-call hours.
When Must My Employer Pay Me For On-call Time in North Carolina?
There are state and federal laws — the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act, respectively — that require employers to pay workers for every hour worked. They cannot ask you to perform work off the clock, including times when you are not engaged in activity for work but not fully relieved of all duties, either.
On-call time is a somewhat gray area of these laws, but in general if you cannot use your time as you wish for personal purposes you probably have not been fully relieved of your work-related duties. This means you should receive compensation. If you can spend your on-call time away from your workplace and engaged in personal activities, your employer likely does not need to pay you.
How Do NC Courts Determine If I Deserve Pay For My On-call Time?
If we need to take your case to court to recover the wages you deserve, the court will determine whether your employer violated the wage laws based on the facts of your case. Some of the factors it will consider may include:
- Whether you can spend your on-call time at home
- Whether you can complete personal errands and activities while on call
- Your ability to maintain a flexible schedule during on-call times
- How frequently you receive calls during on-call time, and how this affects other activities
- Whether your activities during on-call times primarily benefit your employer
- Any geographic or time restrictions while on call
- Whether you actually use on-call time for personal activities or focus on work
When we represent you, we build a strong case to show your on-call time restricts your ability to engage in personal activities. We provide examples and documentation of the restrictions placed on you while on call, and fight to prove you deserve compensation. We have the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to prove your case and recover the wages owed to you.
What Happens When My Employer Calls Me During My On-call Time?
Occasionally, we encounter employees who have questions about when on-call workers with the freedom to use their on-call time as they see fit qualify for compensation. The answer is clear: any time you work, your employer must pay you. This means that if you report to work because of a call, your pay period begins when you clock in. But this also means that if you spend a half hour on the phone with a coworker or customer at home, your employer must compensate you.
For example, imagine you are a tech support worker for a corporation that owns clothing stores. You are on call one weekend a month in case anyone at any of your retail locations experiences an issue. The computer system goes down at one location while you are on call. The location is in another state, so you spend an hour walking the manager through troubleshooting the system.
While this conversation takes place over the phone and you never leave your home, your employer must still compensate you for the hour you work. There is no gray area here, and any refusal to pay you is wage theft.
Phil Gibbons, Charlotte, NC Employee Rights Lawyer, Can Help You Recover Unpaid On-call Time Wages
Phil Gibbons at Gibbons Leis, PLLC can help you understand when you qualify for pay during your on-call time, and recover any unpaid wages if your employer violated any of the state or federal wage laws. Call us today at 704-612-0038. We can take on any corporation in North Carolina, and fight for the money you earned.