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What jobs tend to be on call, and why is this a problem?

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2023 | Wage & Hour Law

In many occupations, workers know exactly what their hours are supposed to be. This can make it easy to schedule meal breaks, rest breaks and things of that nature. Likewise, workers will be very aware if they miss any of these breaks because their schedule is so predictable.

But other jobs tend to have on-call hours, which means they’re not going to be nearly as predictable and the exact schedule may not be known in advance. Below are a few examples of jobs where this may be true:

  1. Retail jobs: In some cases, store owners may have on-call employees so that they can bring them in if it gets busier than expected, but they don’t have to pay those employees on a slow day.
  2. Medical professionals: Those working in the medical profession may need to be on call, such as a certified nurse assistant or a registered nurse. For instance, a surgeon may not have any procedures scheduled but may still be on call in case someone suffers a life-threatening injury unexpectedly.
  3. First responders. Many first responders, such as ambulance drivers, EMTs and firefighters, may have on-call hours. They simply need to respond when an emergency occurs, and that is hard to predict.

Other examples of potentially on-call employees include emergency roadside specialists, repair and service technicians, IT workers, veterinarian technicians, and security guards.

Have you been paid appropriately?

If you are an on-call non-exempt employee, it can be problematic if you are shorted on the breaks that you deserve or asked to skip breaks because you need to respond immediately.  You may also be subjected to illegal working conditions.  It’s very important to understand all of your rights under California labor laws.