Ohio Labor Law for On-Call Employees

Ohio does not have any state laws regulating employers' use of "on-call" employees. The term covers people who are not officially on the clock, but can be called into work if business needs require it. However, under federal law, employers have to compensate on-call workers if the employers' needs significantly restrict the employees' ability to go about their own activities.

Federal Law
Under federal regulations, on-call pay obligation depends on if the employee can use that same time for his own purposes. In general, if he must stay on the employer’s premises, or so close by he can't use the time effectively for his own activities, he must be paid. On the other hand, an employee who is allowed to go home and simply has to to leave a phone number with his boss about where he can be reached doesn't have to be paid for that on-call time. However, the rule isn't absolute. Some employees who can go home during on-call hours still have to be paid if the employer imposes restrictions on how they use their time while on call.

On Call at Home
There is no single factor that determines whether an employee has to be paid for on-call time she spends at home. However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals explained in the 1992 case Martin v. Ohio Turnpike Commission employees in that situation must be paid if the job restrictions keep them from using their home time for their own activities. For example, if the employer calls workers back to work frequently, or the employer's on-call system is very distracting or cumbersome, the employee likely has to be paid for on-call time.

Waiting at Work
Some special classes of employees, such as first responders and emergency medical personnel, are required to remain at work during on-call hours even when not engaged in any active work. The Supreme Court explained way back in the 1944 case Armour & Co. v. Wantock that an employee has to be paid for waiting time if it is spent primarily for the benefit of the employer and his business. In this instance, the employee can even sleep, eat and read a book while waiting.

Ohio Enforcement Authority
The Ohio Wage and Hour Administration handles complaints for unpaid wages, unlawful deductions from wages, minimum wages not paid, overtime not paid, or last paychecks not received. If you believe your employer has improperly failed to pay for time spent on call, you can file a complaint in writing with the Bureau of Wage and Hour Administration, located at 6606 Tussing Road, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068.