On-call 24/7: Should you pay or get Paid?

Today's world of beepers, pagers, cell phones and other electronic gadgets have placed many professionals at the mercy of their employers to be ready and on-call 24 hours/7 days a week.

That's OK if you understand the parameters involved in maintaining a schedule like this, but how does compensation enter into the scenario? Should you pay your employees for 24/7 access, or better yet, be paid if you have availability around the clock?

Barbara Kate Repa, author of Avoid Employee Lawsuits, says that the crux of the matter is common sense. If you are required by the employer to be on the premises, no matter what time it is, you should be paid. However, if you are at home or elsewhere and certainly not at work, you can control your own schedule. As a result, you should not be paid unless you have previously negotiated something with the employer. In some cases, employees may be paid less in these circumstances.

Commutes to work often are in question, especially in cities like New York and Los Angeles where travel time to work can take one hour or longer. The rule of thumb, according to Repa, is that if your commute is part of your job, then you would be paid. In some cases, traveling during emergencies or at odd times may also be subject to pay.

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