Should an RN, who is salaried and on call 24/7, expect to collect some on-call compensation because the job restricts their actions/life?

By | 2022-02-23T17:48:18-05:00 November 20th, 2013|1 Comment


Dear Nancy,

I am a salaried RN required to be on-call 24/7 for a group home for the developmentally disabled, yet I am considered exempt for on-call pay.

Hypothetically, if I were to go out in the evening and have drinks to the point of legal intoxication and received a call for instructions to provide treatment, care or medication, etc., wouldn’t that be considered practicing under the influence? Should I not receive some on-call compensation because my actions and my life are restricted, to an extent?


Dear Nancy replies

Dear Rhonda,

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state law that most often mirrors the FSLA defines whether one is a salaried employee, and therefore not required to be paid overtime or on-call compensation, or if one is a non-exempt employee, and therefore overtime and on-call compensation is required to be paid.

Since you are a salaried employee, you would not be eligible for additional overtime or on-call pay because, as the thought behind the categories goes, your salary compensates you more than those who would get additional pay when working overtime or when on-call. The greater salary is due to the additional responsibilities the employer requires of the person in this position.

Should you have a concern about your status as an exempt/salaried employee, you might want to discuss this with your employer’s human resource department. You also can review the categories and other information on your state agency’s website that deals with hourly rates, salaried employees and so forth. Often, these websites have a link to how employees are categorized and where to get further information about this process.

If, though, you are properly categorized as a salaried/exempt employee, there is little you can do to change that due to the requirements of the applicable law(s). Be clear, too, just receiving on-call compensation would not negate the prohibition of “practicing under the influence” when on-call duty or when on duty 24/7 as a salaried RN. Being “clean and sober” is a condition of the position and, as such, can only be eliminated by taking a job that does not require that obligation.



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One Comment

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    Erica November 26, 2019 at 9:56 am - Reply

    She’s a nurse, so she is intelligent. That last piece of information would be necessary for an uneducated and simple individual… Just thought it was demeaning to her intelligence level and not at all part of her question…assuming JGreen understood the question.

    Be more respectful and think about what you are writing next time.

    As for Nancy’s concern, nurses (who note are are in majority female) are frequently taken advantage of and underpaid. Make no mistake, whatever she is paid at a higher rate DOES NOT equal what a non-exempt nurse getting paid overtime or on call makes… Even nurses getting paid on call are not paid enough. My company it is about $40 to be on call for the whole 24 hour day. If you are triaging a patient, you may be on the phone for an hour between patient and physician calls… That’s only ONE call you take that day and you normally get multiple calls. So basically you are restricted in your actions for 24 hours, and normally doing 4-6 hours of additional work between telephone calls and documenting (if you are lucky and don’t actually have to drive out and visit the patient) all for a whopping $40.00… whoooo hooooo. But we still do it for the patients and no one will back us up and tell these companies that are making mucho bucks off of our work that this is not only unethical, it’s flat out illegal. I would compare this to modern day slave labor (if you do not know what the actual definition of slave labor is please look up).

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