Q. We have a maintenance employee who we will soon put “on call” for various shifts (occasionally at night) to fix equipment. How should we handle his on-call pay? —E.P., Rhode Island
A. When you contact on-call employees to come to work, you must count their time spent actually working as “hours worked” and pay them accordingly. That's the easy part.
The trickier question: “Does the time spent 'on call' while at home also count as hours worked?” The answer: If the employee can use that on-call time for his or her personal use, you don't have to pay. But if your organization has effectively restricted the employee during on-call time so that he can't use the time for personal use, you'll have to pay up. It's a case-by-case decision.
Some questions to consider: How quickly must the employee respond if called? Does the employee have to stay within a restricted area while on call? How often is the employee called to duty while on call?