Should you get paid for answering phone calls and responding to emails while “off-duty”?

The City of Philadelphia just agreed to pay police officer’s approximately $8 million dollars to do just that. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 which represents Philadelphia police officers filed a complaint alleging the City required officers to frequently check phones and email while “off-duty”. The officers argued requiring them to regularly check and respond to department calls and emails while “off-duty” should be considered “on-call” time and should be paid. The city agreed to settle the officer’s claims by paying officers approximately $1,300 each.

More on the story from WPVI Philadelphia:

Whether “on-call” time should be compensated under the FLSA depends on numerous factors. These factors can include:

• Level of employer control over the on-call time
• Geographical limits on the employee’s activities while on call
• Frequency of calls
• Discipline for employees that miss a call back
• Agreement between employer and employees

On-Call cases can be highly fact specific. It is very difficult to find the same set of facts and circumstances in different cases. A careful analysis of many factors is required to determine if “on-call” time needs to be compensated. Additionally, state laws and local ordinances may also be relevant. Very often state wage and hour laws place additional restrictions on employers that want to use on-call time.

Whether this Pennsylvania case will create a ripple effect throughout the region is yet to be determined. We will certainly keep you posted.

Contact  William Maccarone to Discuss The Article