Pay for No Work – Part I – On-Call

In addition to vacations and statutory holidays, there are two key times when an employee who is not performing any productive work may be entitled to be paid under the Employment Standards Act (British Columbia):

  • while on-call other than at home; and during travel time.

On-call employees are “at work” and are entitled to be paid regular wages as well as overtime for those hours of work. The Act provides that an employee is “at work” while on call at a location designated by the employer, unless that location is the “employee’s residence”, a term which is narrowly construed and probably does not include most temporary accommodation provided by the employer at or near the worksite.

Employees who are not in their own homes and who are required by the employer to be available to work on an as-needed basis are on-call and “at work” for the purposes of the Act, even if they are sleeping or watching television. There are a number of exemptions set out in the Regulation relating to live-in home support workers, night attendants, residential care workers and certain industry-specific workers such as fish farm workers.

Watch out for:

  • employees who are required to remain at or near the workplace after work and who may be required to work on an as-needed basis; and
  • employees who are on-call at home, but who are subject to significant restrictions, such as a short response time, which effectively curtail the employees’ mobility or freedom.

Possible solutions:

  • do not require employees who remain at the workplace after their hours of work to be available to work on an as-needed or emergency basis; and
  • when preparing guidelines for employees on-call, carefully consider the reasonableness of response times or other restrictions.

emergency employee's residence Employment Standards on-call travel time wages work work hours workplace

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