Can I Be Kept “On Call” During My Lunch Break?

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You may have heard the term “on call” used frequently within your place of work. Well, this essentially means that you may be expected to be available at any time during your work shift to carry out certain work duties. More often than not, this expectation comes with short notice during your lunch break, rest break, or otherwise. You may be unsure of whether you are doing this as a favor to your employer or if this is a required part of your job. Nonetheless, read on to discover whether you can be kept “on call” during your lunch break and how a seasoned Gloucester County wage and hour lawyer at The Vigilante Law Firm, P.C. can help you better understand your rights.

Can my New Jersey employer keep me “on call” during my lunch break?

You must understand that the state of New Jersey does not uphold a legal requirement for most employers to provide their employees with lunch breaks during the workday. However, federal law holds that most employers must pay employees for all hours worked.

For example, say that you take a 30-minute lunch break during which you are relieved of all your job duties. In this case, you may not be compensated for this time. On the other hand, say that your employer expects you to be “on call” during these 30 minutes. Then, this means that your employer must pay you for doing so.

With this, it must be stressed that your employer may not be required to pay you if you voluntarily performed certain job tasks during your granted lunch break. Rather, you may only have grounds for a legal dispute if your employer called on you to attend to certain duties.

Can I be kept “on call” during my rest break?

Similarly, New Jersey law does not mandate most employers to provide their employees with rest breaks, unless their employees are under the age of 18. However, if they elect to offer rest breaks, they may abide by federal law. Specifically, federal law holds that employers must pay employees for short rest breaks of less than 20 minutes.

So, if you take a rest break of more than 20 minutes, your employer may not compensate you during this time. But again, if your employer expects you to be on call, they may be required to pay you. This is regardless of whether you end up having to perform a certain job duty during this time. Otherwise, being denied pay during this time may allude to discrimination based on race, national origin, religion, age, sex, or any other protected class.

Rest assured, our team at The Vigilante Law Firm, P.C. has experience in handling cases just like yours. So please do not be afraid to reach out to one of our competent New Jersey employment lawyers.

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