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California’s Policy For On-Call And Standby Time Pay

April 25, 2024 Legal Team

California has some of the best workplace protections for workers in the country. However, these protections are only effective when people are aware of them. For instance, California has standards for when employees are on-call for their employer and what those employees are owed due to their standby status. 

So, in this guide, we’ll examine California’s on-call and standby pay policy. We’ll share examples of common scenarios that could make an employee eligible for on-call pay and what to do if you believe you are owed pay that you’re not receiving. 

After reading this blog, if you realize that your employer has been underpaying you due to their lack of enforcement of standby time and pay, give us a call at Aegis at (949) 822-9220.

California's Policy For On-Call And Standby Time Pay

What Types Of Situations Could Yield Payment From My Employer? 

California has clear rules that dictate when an employee is or isn’t entitled to payment from their employer. It’s clear that when someone is on the clock and actively working, they should receive payment, but what about other times? 

In addition to time spent on their job, Californian employees are entitled to pay in the following circumstances: 

  • Responding to a Work Call
  • Being on “Standby” but Under Employers Control
  • Traveling To or From Worksites

Understanding Standby Time

Standby time or being on-call is when you are expected to be present for an employer and be under their control. According to guidance from the California Department of Industrial Relations

Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, “on-call or standby time at the work site is considered hours worked for which the employee must be compensated even if the employee does nothing but wait for something to happen.”

An employee in California must receive the minimum wage (currently $16.00 per hour) for time on standby. 

Examples Of Being On Standby

Here are examples of situations that would require payment for being on call to help you understand the nuances of standby time. 

  • A DevOps Engineer must have the “on-call” phone overnight with him as part of a schedule to allow him to respond in the middle of the night to technical emergencies for his software company. 
  • A security professional receives an alert of a break-in at her place of employment, which requires her to travel to the site after she is off the clock. 
  • A nurse must go to the hospital to pick up a shift after being threatened with termination otherwise, as the hospital is short-staffed. 

The common theme with these examples is that they are all situations in which an employee has to be ready to work, which doesn’t allow them to have meaningful time not working. 

What To Do If You’re Unpaid For Time Spent On Standby

When your California-based employer disregards your right to the compensation you are owed, you may be able to take legal action against them. For starters, you can file a formal complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement at the Department of Industrial Relations. Additionally, it might be the right choice to select a trustworthy Orange County employment lawyer to sue them in court. 

Regardless, reaching out to our team at Aegis Law may be helpful. Call us at (949) 822-9220 or book your free, no-obligation case review today.