Career Planning

On-Call Employees: Definition, Payment & Examples

Oncall Pay Definition, Laws, Examples, and More

On-Call Employees: <a href="">Definition</a>, Payment & Examples

Being an on-call employee can be a challenging and often misunderstood role. Whether you are an employer or an employee, understanding the definition, payment, and examples of on-call work is essential. In this blog post, we will dive into the details of on-call employees, including what it means to be on-call, how they are compensated, and some examples of on-call positions.

What is an On-Call Employee?

An on-call employee is someone who is required to be available to work at any given time, usually outside of their regular working hours. These employees are typically contacted on short notice and are expected to respond promptly and be ready to work if needed. On-call work is common in industries such as healthcare, emergency services, and IT support.

Benefits of On-Call Work

  • Flexibility: On-call work allows employees to have flexibility in their schedules and can often be a good fit for those who have other commitments or responsibilities.
  • Additional Income: On-call employees are often compensated for their availability, even if they are not called in to work. This can provide an additional source of income.
  • Skills Development: On-call work can provide valuable experience and skills development, as employees are often required to handle unexpected situations and make quick decisions.

Challenges of On-Call Work

  • Uncertainty: On-call employees may never know when they will be called in to work, which can make it difficult to plan their personal lives and make commitments.
  • Work-Life Balance: The unpredictable nature of on-call work can make it challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance, as employees may be called in to work during their personal time.
  • Stress: Being constantly available and ready to work can be stressful for on-call employees, as they are always on standby and may not have time to fully relax or unwind.

Payment for On-Call Employees

The payment structure for on-call employees can vary depending on the industry, company policies, and local labor laws. Here are a few common methods of payment for on-call work:

Hourly Rate

Some companies pay on-call employees an hourly rate for the time they are on-call, regardless of whether they are called in to work or not. This ensures that employees are compensated for their availability and time spent waiting.

Standby Pay

In some cases, on-call employees are paid a fixed amount, known as standby pay, for each shift they are on-call. This provides a guaranteed income for employees, even if they are not called in to work.

Overtime and Call-Back Pay

If an on-call employee is called in to work outside of their regular working hours, they may be eligible for overtime pay or call-back pay, depending on the local labor laws and company policies.

Examples of On-Call Positions

On-call work can be found in various industries and job roles. Here are a few examples of on-call positions:

Healthcare Professionals

In the healthcare industry, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals may be required to be on-call to respond to emergencies or provide urgent care outside of regular working hours.

IT Support Technicians

IT support technicians are often on-call to handle technical issues and provide assistance to clients or employees outside of regular office hours.

Emergency Services Personnel

Police officers, firefighters, and paramedics are typically on-call to respond to emergencies and provide assistance when needed.

On-Call Contractors

Some companies may hire on-call contractors for specific projects or tasks that require immediate attention but do not require a full-time employee.


On-call work can offer flexibility and additional income for employees, but it also comes with challenges such as uncertainty and potential impact on work-life balance. Employers should ensure that on-call employees are fairly compensated for their availability and time spent waiting. Clear communication and well-defined policies can help create a positive on-call work experience for both employers and employees.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are on-call employees entitled to overtime pay?

Whether on-call employees are entitled to overtime pay depends on the local labor laws and company policies. In some cases, on-call work may be considered as part of regular working hours, while in others it may be eligible for overtime pay.

2. Can on-call employees refuse to work when called in?

On-call employees are generally expected to be available and ready to work when called in. However, there may be situations where they can refuse to work, such as if they have already worked a certain number of hours or if they have a valid reason for not being able to work.

3. How much notice should on-call employees be given before they are required to work?

The amount of notice required for on-call employees can vary depending on the industry and company policies. In some cases, employees may be given a few hours’ notice, while in others they may be required to be available at all times.

4. Can on-call employees have a second job?

Whether on-call employees can have a second job depends on the company policies and any agreements they have with their employer. Some employers may restrict employees from having other employment that could interfere with their on-call availability.

5. Are on-call employees eligible for benefits?

Whether on-call employees are eligible for benefits such as healthcare, retirement plans, or paid time off depends on the company policies and local labor laws. In some cases, on-call employees may be eligible for certain benefits, while in others they may not.

Sarah Thompson is a career development expert with a passion for helping individuals achieve their professional goals. With over a decade of experience in the field, Sarah specializes in providing practical advice and guidance on job search strategies, cover letters, resumes, and interview techniques. She believes in empowering job seekers with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the competitive job market successfully.

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