DEFINITE MAYBES « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


California’s Standards for On-Call and Standby Time

An employer may or may not have to compensate a worker for on-call time depending on the restrictions on that person’s actions and movements.  The dividing line – not necessarily definite in every case – is whether the employee is “subject to the control of the employer” (controlled standby) or merely available if he/she chooses to respond (uncontrolled standby).

Pertinent factors include:

● Any significant geographic restrictions on the worker’s location or travel during the on-call time;

●  Any tight time deadline for the employee to respond to a call;

●  A frequency of calls that unreasonably restricts the employee’s actions while on standby;

●  Whether the worker can hand off his/her on-call time to one or more other employees;

●  The extent the employee is free to engage in personal activities during on-call time (e.g., in a movie theater with phone off);

●  Industry practice and the nature of the employment relationship. For example, the California Supreme Court has ruled that security guard overnight sleep time on assigned premises was controlled standby; and

●  Any other limitations on worker freedom of movement or action while on-call  (e.g., restricting a standby employee’s alcohol consumption)

A worker on controlled standby earns wages for that on-call/standby time as well as travel time to work and back and, of course, the call-back working hours.

Employers need only compensate a worker on uncontrolled standby for the call-back time and, if required to report to a client’s location, for the travel time. Management can choose to pay an uncontrolled standby worker for travel time into the office and back but is not obligated to do so.

Take Aways:  Management should confirm its on-call conditions in written policy and protocols, with care taken to emphasize an employee’s wide choices for response if uncontrolled standby is intended.  If it makes sense for the nature of business, one possible underscore for uncontrolled standby is to send out the call to several workers with first-to-respond the one to perform the work.

For more information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

See also:

Tim Bowles
July 15, 2022

Contact Us

If you are an employer facing possible litigation, or have an employee issue on which you need immediate guidance, call us to set up a consultation, or submit your message.

NOTE: Use of this website does not make one a client of the Law Offices of Timothy Bowles (“Firm” or “Bowles Law”). Establishing an attorney-client relationship and the confidentiality that comes with it depends on the Firm’s prior confirmation that no factor, including any conflict of interest (for example, our representation of another party adverse to you), exists to prevent that establishment. If you have confidential information that you would like to provide a Bowles Law attorney, please communicate directly to one of our attorneys, in person, by telephone, email, fax or other written means. Do not use this website to offer or communicate confidential information about any legal matter.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.