On-call work is a type of employment in which an employee is expected to be available to work outside their regular working hours, on short notice, typically in response to an emergency or unexpected demand for services. On-call work is common in industries such as healthcare, public safety, and customer service, where it is important to have staff available to respond quickly to events around the clock.
How does on-call employment work?
Employees on on-call duty are usually reachable by phone or other means of communication and are expected to report to work within a certain amount of time when called. For example, in a healthcare setting, an on-call doctor may be reached for emergency medical services outside of regular business hours. In a tech support environment, an on-call developer may be reached to resolve critical IT issues.
Are hours spent on-call considered hours worked?
That depends on the specific circumstances and the applicable labor laws. In the U.S, Canada, and Australia, on-call time may be considered work time if the employee is required to remain at or near their workplace and cannot use the time effectively for their own purposes. In the European Union (EU), the Working Time Directive states that on-call time may be considered working time if employees cannot determine their own working hours.
How are on-call hours compensated?
On-call hours can be compensated in various ways depending on the employer and industry. Common methods of compensation include:
- Separate hourly rate: employees are paid a set rate for being on-call, regardless of whether they are actually called in to work.
- Premium pay: employees receive a higher rate of pay – such as time-and-a-half – for hours actually worked during an on-call shift.
- Standby pay: employees receive compensation for being available to work during their on-call hours, regardless of whether they are called in.
- Call-back pay: employees receive premium pay when they are called back to work outside their scheduled hours.
Is on-call pay taxed differently than regular pay?
The taxation of on-call pay is the same as the taxation of regular pay. On-call pay is considered taxable income and must be reported to tax authorities. Employers are responsible for withholding taxes from their employees’ on-call payroll payments, just as they do from their regular pay.