On-Call Pay in California

on call pay laws in CaliforniaUnder California law, determining whether an employee is entitled to the on-call pay or standby pay requires matching the circumstances of his work against a number of specific factors:

(1) The on-premises living requirement – i.e. whether an employee required to remain on site or near the site while on call. This often applies to security guards of large and/or high security facilities.

(2) Excessive geographical restrictions on the employee’s movement while being on call – i.e. whether an employee has to be able to report to work site while on call within a short period of time when necessary. This often applies to firefighters, nurses and other emergency personnel.

(3) Whether the frequency of calls is unduly restrictive. A property manager of a small property who gets a few non-emergency calls a week from tenants is much less likely to be entitled to on-call pay than a dispatcher that gets frequent calls during a similar on-call time.

(4) Whether the fixed time limit to respond to a call is unduly restrictive – i.e. whether the employee have to respond to a call in an urgent manner, such as within half and hour or just a few hours. This applies to emergency medical personnel and certain emergency technicians at various facilities that have to ensure that the systems are consistently up and running.

(5) Whether the on-call employee can easily trade on-call responsibilities – i.e. can on-call employee easily ask someone else to perform the tasks that he has been ask to perform while being on-call?

(6) Whether use of a pager or cellphone could ease the restrictions, i.e. whether answering a call is normally all that’s required or the employee usually has to follow up on the call by performing a certain on-site work.

(7) Whether the employee can actually engage in personal activities while being on call. Those employee who can be free to do what they wish as long as they carry a phone or page on them that allows to get in touch with them will be less likely to be entitled to on-call pay than those who, for whatever reason, cannot engage in personal business while being on call.

No single factor among the above will alone determine whether an employee is entitled to on-call pay, and all factors need to be considered in order to make that determination. As a result, some employees will fall into a grey area, whether it’s not going to be clear whether they should be paid for their on-call time.

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