Employees that are required to be on-call for work have unique burdens to overcome that those with standard hours and shifts do not have to deal with. For example, an on-call nurse is not able to make social plans, schedule volunteer opportunities, take on additional work or enroll in an educational course during the time that the individual is on-call. Rather, the nurse simply has to be available for the duration of that day, and periodically check in with the employer. If the nurse is not needed that day, there will be no compensation given for the reporting time that day.
Luckily, for employees in California, this will soon be changing. According to HR Dive, a recent court ruling in the state will make employees eligible for reporting time compensation when they are on-call for their employer.
What you need to know about Wage Order 7
Wage Order 7 is a state law in California that requires workers to be paid for their reporting time. In the case Ward v. Tilly's Inc., the plaintiffs were employees who were required to take on-call scheduling shifts. During those on-call shifts, they had to report to their employer and find out whether they needed to report to work that day. Their personal schedule had to be clear, but they may not be needed for work. Prior to the court ruling, these employees were not getting paid for their reporting time. The court, however, ruled that their reporting time fell within the parameters of the Wage Order 7 law.
The Wage Order 7 state law requires employers to pay employees for their reporting time. In the case, the employer Tilly's was arguing that they should not have to pay on-call employees who were not required to report to work. However, the court ruled that employees must make personal sacrifices to be available, and yet did not receive any compensation if they were not required to report for work. The court noted that employees should receive some compensation for their reporting time during on-call shifts.
How does Wage Order 7 differ from federal labor laws?
Wage Order 7, like many other California employment laws, provides workers with more rights than most federal laws related to labor and wages. For example, the Federal Labor Standards Act does not consider an employee to be on-call unless they are on the premises of their employment location. In fact, the FLSA goes further to note that employees who are on-call for a shift while at home or at another location are not working at the time, and therefore are not required to receive compensation.
This court ruling is seen to be a victory for California workers, but it should be considered carefully by California employers. Employers will want to create schedules that adhere to the parameters of the law, and be mindful of the fact that on-call employees will need to be compensated in some form for their reporting time.
How to address compensation disputes with your employer
Unfortunately, many employees in California find that they have to settle wage disputes with their employers. Whether you are an hourly employee who does not feel you have received the compensation you need or you are a salaried worker who is disputing a compensation issue with your employer, you should enlist the help of an experienced employment attorney. Contact our law firm today to set up a consultation to discuss the details of your case.