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Controlled On-Duty Time

Legal Representation in Los Angeles for Wage and Hour Claims

Some jobs involve downtime. For example, a worker may have to be on call to respond within minutes to any problems at a facility that runs around the clock but have little to do during the on-call period. Controlled on-duty time refers to time in which an employee is under the employer’s control, but is not necessarily performing job-related tasks. When a job in Los Angeles involves controlled on-duty time, the worker may not be fairly compensated for this period. If you believe you have not been fairly compensated for the controlled on-duty time, you should consult an experienced Los Angeles overtime attorney.

Compensation for Controlled On-Duty Time

Many employees are on call or standby and must carry a cell phone or pager or answer emails regularly as part of their jobs. If you’re an exempt employee, you don’t get extra pay for the on-call time, though you might negotiate for additional compensation for any standby time. For example, if you were a surgeon, you would probably want to factor in your on-call time into whether your salary is reasonable. However, if you’re a nonexempt hourly employee, as most workers are, you are supposed to be paid for standby or on-call time if that time is controlled, as opposed to not controlled by the employer.

During the controlled on-duty time, workers may not actually perform job-related tasks but are required to respond to specific situations. For example, if you’re a firefighter who can engage in a game of poker at the station while waiting for a fire, you may not be performing a job-related task, but you are required to be at the station and to immediately respond to a fire.

Generally, a nonexempt hourly worker in California is supposed to be paid minimum wage and overtime for all hours worked for an employer whether she/he is working onsite or offsite. However, the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) uses different standards than the federal Department of Labor to measure “hours worked.” The DLSE provides that hours worked are those in which an employee is subject to the control of an employer or is suffered or permitted to work. If the time you spend for the employer falls into one of these categories, it is counted as hours worked in California.

Whether the time you spend on call or waiting is considered time worked can depend on the circumstances in California. The first issue is whether any restrictions placed on you during this period are primarily directed towards fulfilling the employer’s policies and the second issue is whether you’re so substantially restricted that you can’t be involved in private pursuits. The total impact of your employer’s restrictions is supposed to be considered.

Factors to be considered in connection with whether you’re substantially restricted include whether you are required to stay on the premises, how far away from the premises you can go if you’re allowed to go offsite, do you have to do more than leave your contact information with your employer, whether you trade on-call responsibilities with another employee, how often you’re actually called during the on-duty time, whether there’s a fixed time in which you must respond to a call during the on-call period, and whether you’re allowed to freely use your time while on call.

Controlled on-duty time is compensable if an employer has a significant amount of control over a period of time. However, if you are simply required to let your employer know where you can be reached during off-hours, you aren’t required to be compensated for on-call time. For example, if you are a server who is supposed to be on call during off-hours to cover a shift in case a restaurant gets really busy, but you can effectively do what you want during that period, you may not be entitled to compensation.

Retain an Experienced Los Angeles Wage and Hour Attorney

If you suspect that you are not being appropriately compensated for the controlled on-duty time, The Nourmand Law Firm, APC may be able to represent you in a lawsuit to recover damages. Our Los Angeles overtime lawyers strive to provide aggressive legal representation to workers who have been harmed in San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Palm Springs, Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Van Nuys, Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, and San Bernardino Counties. Call us at 800-700-WAGE (9243) or contact us through our online form. We also handle employment discrimination matters, including pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and disability discrimination cases.

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