August 10, 2008
US Department of Labor Issues Opinion Letter on On-call Time
Filed under: News
Vision Payroll

The US Department of Labor recently issued non-Administrator signed Opinion Letter FLSA2008-8NA. Although Opinion Letters only apply to the exact set of facts and circumstances presented in each case, they are a valuable aid in understanding current interpretations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Unlike signed Opinion Letters, unsigned Opinion Letters do not “provide a potential good faith reliance defense for violations of the FLSA.” This Opinion Letter discusses whether on-call time is compensable under the FLSA. A non-profit ambulance rescue service requires employees to be on-call from 6 am to 8 am and from 4 pm to 6 pm five days a week. The employee uses a pager while on-call and must respond to call with the ambulance within eight minutes. The question to be answered is whether the employee is “engaged to wait” (compensable) or “waiting to be engaged” (non-compensable). During the winter months, when there is an average of one call every four hour shift, the frequency of calls along with other factors mandated that the employees be compensated for their time. During the non-winter months, when calls were usually zero, one, or two per week, the on-call time would be non-compensable. State laws may provide rules that are more beneficial to the employee and must be followed. Contact Vision Payroll if you have questions about this Opinion Letter.


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