Wood Words

To Pay On Call Employees

To Pay or Not to Pay? On Call vs. Just-in-Time Employees

Business is unpredictable.

If your Middle Tennessee company is like most, it has its ups and downs. You might need “all hands on deck” at a moment’s notice, or just as suddenly find those same hands sitting idle.

Just-in-time staff from Wood Personnel can help even out those highs and lows in your business, but you may also employ on-call workers to step in right when you need them.

Which brings us to the point of today’s post:

When your employees are on call (and not technically working), do you still need to pay them?

Let’s take a look at the facts.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provides guidelines and definitions that make it easier to maximize the benefit of on-call employees without draining your payroll budget:

  • According to the DOL, “employ” means “to suffer or permit to work.” Admittedly, that’s not the most helpful definition, but thankfully they also provide guidelines as to when an employee is “working” (and therefore needs to be paid).
  • Employees who are “engaged to wait” need to be paid for their time. For example, a firefighter who is sitting around the firehouse, waiting for a call to come in, is “engaged to wait.” The moment an alarm sounds, he’s expected to drop everything and respond immediately. Though he may not be working on firehouse-related tasks most of his work day, he must be paid for his time.
  • Employees who are “waiting to be engaged” do not need to be paid for their time. For example, a shift worker who sits around his home, waiting for his employer to call and alert him that he’s needed is likely “waiting to be engaged.” The shift worker’s time is his own, until he agrees to come in and work.
  • “On-call” employees may or may not need to be paid for their time. Generally speaking, any employee who is required to be on the employer’s premises while on call must be paid for his time (regardless of whether or not he is performing other work-related tasks while waiting).
  • By contrast, an employee who is on call, but permitted to do so from home, may not need to be paid for waiting time. The more limits there are on the employee’s freedom while on call (e.g., being required to remain at his place of work), the more likely it is that he must be paid for waiting time.

On-Call Employees or Just-in-Time Staffing

Just-in-time temporary help delivers the benefits of on-call employees, without the liability, overhead or headaches. But which is the best option for your business? Our Nashville staffing experts can evaluate your workforce needs and make the right choice. Just give us a call!