Is On Call Time Compensable?

Recent DOL Opinion Letter explains compensability of on call time.

A recent Opinion Letter from the US Department of Labor addresses on call time and compensability. The DOL Opinion Letters are specific to the original requestor’s situation and are not to be used as blanket policies.  However, additional details regarding FLSA interpretation can be garnered from these letters.

Opinion Letter, FLSA2008-14NA, explains that compensability of on call time is “decided in the context of each case”.  Therefore, the DOL is saying that each case, or each policy regarding on call time, must be looked at on its own merits and design, and a blanket statement can not be given to cover every given policy design.

Compensability arises when on call conditions restrict the employee from using this time for personal uses. This is the major principle that they look at when determining compensability. The DOL does go on to give several factors that they use to determine if the on call time restricts the employee from personal use.

These factors include:

·        is there excessive geographical limitations on the employee’s movement

·        is the frequency of calls received unduly restrictive

·        is the fixed time limit for response too impeding

·        can the employee trade on call responsibilities

When determining compensability of on call time all of the factors of your on call policy should be examined.  Employers need to be very careful examining these policies and should get professional assistance or ask your Professional Employer Organization (PEO) when making these determinations.  Paying back wages including overtime hours, especially when not expecting these additional costs, can significantly hurt a company.

DOL Opinion Letter