On-Call” And “Stand By” Labor Laws in California

Labor Laws

As of January 1, 2024, the minimum wage in California has risen to $16 per hour for employers of any size, without considering the number of employees they have or whether they are on-call workers.

“On-call” and “standby” workers must be available to work during certain periods, even if they are not actively working during those times. Understanding the difference between these two situations and what they mean for employers and employees is complicated and diverse.

According to California on-call laws, consider your rights and compensation as an employee during on-call or stand-by periods. The obligations that employers must follow and potential legal challenges add complications to this topic.

Stay informed on how these laws could impact you or your workforce in the Golden State.

Overview of On-Call Work

When working in California, you must understand the on-call work regulations for employers and employees.

As an employer, you must be aware that on-call employees who are required to remain at the workplace or close by may be entitled to compensation for that time, even if they aren’t actively working. This is to prevent any potential violations of labor laws that could result in costly consequences for your business.

As an employee, know your rights regarding on-call work to guarantee fair treatment and compensation. In California, if you’re restricted in your activities while on call, such as being unable to leave a certain area or consume alcohol, you may be entitled to compensation for that time. Communicate with your employer about the expectations and requirements of on-call work to avoid any misunderstandings.

Definition of Stand-By Status

Stand-by status refers to a situation where an employee is required to be available to work but isn’t actively working. During stand-by status, employees must be ready to report to work within a short notice period. This means they can’t engage in personal activities that would impede their ability to respond promptly to a call to work.

Employers must clearly define the conditions of standby status, including the expected response time and any compensation or benefits that apply during this period. Employers must communicate these expectations clearly to avoid misunderstandings with employees. Stand-by status typically involves restrictions on the employee’s freedom to leave a designated area or travel too far from the workplace.

Employee Rights and Compensation

As an employee, you have the right to receive compensation for all hours worked, including any time spent on-call or on stand-by status, if certain criteria are met.

In California, if you’re required to remain on-call on the employer’s premises or so close that you can’t use the time effectively for your purposes, you’re considered to be working and must be compensated for that time. If you’re restricted from engaging in personal activities while on standby, you may also be entitled to compensation.

If you’re called to work while on standby status, you should be paid for all hours worked, including any overtime if applicable. Understand your rights regarding compensation to guarantee that you’re fairly compensated for the time you dedicate to your job, even while on-call or on standby.

Employer Obligations and Compliance

Employers must accurately classify employees as on-call or stand-by based on their job duties and requirements. This classification determines the compensation and benefits entitled to employees under California law.

Employers are obligated to provide compensation to on-call employees for the time they’re required to be available for work, even if they aren’t called in. Employers should understand on-call and stand-by labor laws to prevent any violations that could result in costly legal consequences.

Employers must also make sure that on-call or stand-by schedules follow to California’s labor laws regarding rest periods, meal breaks, and maximum working hours to avoid potential violations. Regularly reviewing and updating policies to reflect any changes in state regulations is imperative for compliance. By staying informed and implementing proper protocols, employers can protect both their employees’ rights and the company from legal liabilities.

Legal Challenges and Case Studies

Going through legal challenges and case studies can provide valuable insights into the practical application of labor laws in California. For example, in the case of Augustus v. ABM Security Services. The California Supreme Court ruled that on-call rest breaks aren’t compliant with state labor laws. This decision clarified that employees must be relieved of all duties during rest breaks, emphasizing the importance of uninterrupted breaks for workers.

The case of Troester v. Starbucks Corporation highlighted the necessity of compensating employees for off-the-clock work, even minimal tasks performed after clocking out. This case underscored the significance of accurately tracking and compensating employees for all hours worked, no matter how brief.

These legal challenges and case studies serve as reminders for employers to adhere to California labor laws diligently. By staying informed and implementing necessary changes based on these cases, businesses can avoid costly litigation and make sure they’re providing employees with the rights and protections they’re entitled to under the law.


Understand the labor laws surrounding ‘on-call’ and ‘standby’ work in California for both employees and employers. Employees have rights to fair compensation and employers have obligations to comply with these laws. 

Legal challenges and case studies highlight the importance of following regulations to avoid potential lawsuits. Stay informed and comply to protect both parties’ rights in the workplace.