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Workforce Management

On-Call Work Rules: A Guide for Employers

What You Need to Know About Managing On-Call Employees

If your company employs workers who must be on-call for some period of time during the week, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the relevant rules and regulations. HR leaders need to be aware of federal and state legislation setting out on-call work rules that govern employee’s pay and behavior.

What Does On-Call Mean?

When an employee is required to be available for work should their employer contact them, they are considered to be “on-call.” Usually, on-call workers have jobs in businesses that are unpredictable. Examples of on-call jobs include doctors, nurses, firefighters, utility repair workers and IT technicians, among others.

How Federal Law Impacts On-Call Work Rules

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) established comprehensive rules that govern payment and benefits for U.S. workers, including those required to work on-call shifts. State laws may also apply, so it is important for HR teams to be familiar with their specific state and local regulations as well.

It is important to note that the FLSA on-call regulations only apply to non-exempt (hourly) workers. The rules also largely depend on whether or not an employee has any restrictions placed on them while on call. Restricted status typically depends on two things: an employee’s location and freedom of activity.

On-Call Workers and ‘Restrictions’

If an employee is required to remain at home or within a certain distance from the office then their on-call time would likely be considered hours worked, and they would be given on-call pay.

Similarly, if an employee’s personal activities are restricted, you will probably need to give them on-call pay. For instance, prohibiting an employee from drinking alcohol or participating in other activities that might interfere with their performance during their on-call hours would usually require them to be paid for the entire time. The amount of restrictions or requirements placed on an employee’s personal time will be a factor determining whether they should be paid.

Another factor to consider is how much travel time is involved. If a worker is required to drive to the office to handle an emergency or other duties, then their travel time and expenses would most likely need to be reimbursed as well.

On-Call Work Rules at a State Level

In addition to FLSA rules, businesses should also research any specific state and local regulations that may apply to directly or indirectly to on-call workers. Many states have adopted Predictive Scheduling laws that may penalize employers who fail to provide their employees enough notice of upcoming work schedules or schedule changes.

Company Guidelines

Communicate your company’s guidelines and expectations to all employees who may be required to work on-call. Because on-call work can be dynamic and unpredictable, you’ll need a comprehensive set of procedures that cover both workers and management. While specific rules will vary based on business type, your HR team should create a checklist that covers topics like employees and positions that are eligible for on-call work, on-call restrictions, work schedule rotations, compensation details, job requirements, schedule changes and requesting time off, among others.

How Paycor Helps

Managing on-call employees isn’t easy. The good news is, Paycor can help. Paycor Scheduling helps you create efficient schedules quickly and empowers staff with easy shift-swapping and mobile notifications. Our team have the experience and expertise you need to ensure you successfully navigate all rules and regulations around on-call work.

Paycor builds HR solutions for leaders. With Paycor, you can modernize every aspect of people management, from the way you recruit, onboard and develop your team, to the way you pay and retain them. See how Paycor can help the leaders of your organization solve the problems of today and tomorrow.