I work doing snow removal and my employer offers $200 a week stand-by pay, but just recently I figured out that once I work 11 hours or so in a week my stand-by pay for the week is gone because I've made more than $200 in a week. So the only way I get it is to barely work while on call. Is that right? Or legal?

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    Do you have a work contract that explains the terms of the standby pay? Also, can you tell us where you are located? – dwizum Feb 5 at 21:11
  • Can you explain more what you mean in the title about not missing any calls or work? – thursdaysgeek Feb 5 at 21:20
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    @thursdaysgeek - standby pay for on-demand workers is usually only paid if the worker hasn't missed calls. It's meant to protect you from losing your income if there isn't any work, but it is based on there not being work, not on you not working. So, if your boss calls you to work and you don't respond, you don't get it. You need to be responsive when the calls do come in order to be paid when they don't come. – dwizum Feb 5 at 21:23
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    So if you work 8 hours in a week, do you get paid for those 8 hours AND the 200 dollars standby? I would assume they're just paying your first 10 hours no matter what... – corsiKa Feb 5 at 22:56
  • Sounds like you get $18 per hour ($200 for 11 hours)... (Can you clarify - you get more than $200 if there is more than 11 hours' work to do?) ... and that this "standby pay" is to guarantee you a minimum of $200 if there's less or no work. So the boss isn't really "taking it away" on the weeks there is work, so much as making sure you get it it if there isn't enough work. I think this is working in your favour as it stands... – colmde Feb 11 at 10:05

You said,

So the only way i get it is to barely work while on call

Ultimately, that's what stand-by pay is meant for: to give you an income even when you don't actually do any work (i.e. when you're on standby). It's hard to answer if this is legal or not without knowing where you're located, but to answer your first question,

Is that right ?

You should make sure you understand what your work contract says about your standby pay, but yes - that does sound right.

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This definitely depends on jurisdiction and work contrsct. The collective agreements in Sweden usually have standy-by pay just for being on call. If your services become needed during that time you get overtime pay for the hours worked.

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Is that right?

It sounds reasonable. They want you to get paid in some form.

Or legal?

I'm guessing if the company has been doing it that it is legal. But it's best to consult a lawyer, not random internet strangers on such question as it could get you in trouble with your employer.

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    I'm guessing if the company has been doing it that it is legal. Um...what? They are doing it, so it must be legal? Sorry but this is nonsense. – TheBatman Feb 10 at 20:59
  • "I'm guessing if the company has been doing it that it is legal." Wage theft is the biggest form of theft in the US, year over year. – Monica Apologists Get Out Feb 10 at 21:08

It would depend on your contract.

It is of course deeply unfair - basically if you work 11 hours a week then you don't get paid for being on standby for the rest of the week at all.

So it's not right, but it is most likely legal.

However, being legal is not everything. You can go to your employer and point out that this situation is unfair, and see what happens. You can accidentally miss all calls once you are not paid for being on standby anymore. And you can tell them that you don't want to be on standby at all.

PS. I've got some rather absurd comments here. A company should absolutely pay you for being on standby. You are not working, but you can't spend the time any way you want, and compensation needs to be paid for that. You can't drink three or four beers. You can't visit friends two hours away. If they don't want to pay, why you should you accept being on standby?

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    How is it unfair? Its meant to give income if you normally wouldn't have any work hours. Its not in addtion to any time worked. – Andy Feb 6 at 1:27
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    @gnasher729: Fair would be that the employee is paid for actual hours worked. In this case, the employer is going above and beyond that be promising at least $200... even if no work is needed! The employer may do this out of pure generosity, or maybe because it's the only way they can attract employees. Either way, it's certainly fair. – James Feb 6 at 13:46
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    In general, the employer is expected to compensate for employee's loss of free time from being on call, even if no work was actually done. – ojs Feb 9 at 16:45

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