Q: An employee carries a company-issued smartphone so he can respond to emergencies over the weekend. He can usually resolve an issue with a phone call. How should we pay him—for the time he’s responding to an emergency or for all the time he has the phone?
A: You must pay this employee for the time he spends responding to a call. However, whether an employee who carries a smartphone or other device must be paid for all of his on-call time depends on the facts and circumstances.
In general, just carrying a device doesn’t convert otherwise noncompensable time into working time. However, if the employee’s time is severely restricted, by, for example, having to respond within a relatively brief period of time or he receives many calls, then all of his on-call time may be working time.