Workers waiting ‘on call’ must be paid, court rules

Employees who are required to stay “on call” before the start of a possible work shift — phoning their employer two hours before the shift to learn whether they’re needed — are entitled to be paid for that two-hour period regardless of whether they’re called in to work, a state appeals court ruled Monday.

In a 2-1 decision with potentially broad impact, the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles said on-call employees are protected by a 1943 California Industrial Welfare Commission wage order, still in effect, that entitles employees to “reporting time pay” as soon as they are required to report for work.

The employer in this case, a retail clothing store, argued that the law mandated payment only for the hours an employee was required to report at the workplace. But the appeals court said the law also protects employees who are required to report in by telephone, committing their time to the employer.

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