Can an Employer Keep You On-Call During Lunch Without Paying You in Georgia?

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Can an Employer Keep You On-Call During Lunch Without Paying You in Georgia?

woman eating lunch at work

During a long work day, a good lunch break can be the difference between an intense afternoon slump or a productive end of your day. If you’re required to work through your lunch break or be on-call in case of an emergency, you are not reaping the full benefit of a break. Below we discuss how it is illegal for your employer to keep you on call during lunch without paying you. Contact an Atlanta wage and hour law attorney for legal advice.

Are Meal Breaks an Employee Right?

It may come as a surprise that neither rest breaks nor meal breaks are a federally protected right of employees. Some states have their own laws requiring breaks for certain employees. Georgia does not have individual state laws on the topic and follows the federally mandated FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act). Georgia employers are not required to offer rest or meal breaks. However, any break of 20 minutes or less is considered part of the workday by federal law and must be paid.

What Does it Mean to Be On-Call?

Being on-call essentially means that you are not working but you are available to work if your employer requires it and contacts you. An example of a job that requires on-call work could be a hospital that keeps nurses or doctors on-call so that in case of an emergency they can come in and work. Common on-call jobs include:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Repair workers
  • EMTs
  • Technicians

If you are on-call you may have to stay at work on the premises or nearby. Sometimes you can be at home or go about your day as normal as long as you can get to work in a reasonable time frame. What type of on-call you are depends on your job and employer. You may be expected to simply answer the phone if it rings, respond to client emails, or jump in to help with an emergency surgery. These are all varying kinds of on-call work.

Can My Employer Keep Me On-Call Without Paying Me?

There are various types of breaks that people take or get from their employer depending on the industry, position, and more. You may have a working lunch, which is where you are paid during your lunch but are expected to continue working. You may also have an unpaid lunch break where you can leave work and do as you please during your time.

In Georgia, employers are not required to pay employees for breaks longer than 20 minutes under the condition that the employee is not required to work at all during this time. That includes being on-call. If you are on-call in any way you are technically working and must be compensated for your time.

For example, if you are taking your 30-minute lunch break but your boss asks you to eat at your desk so you can answer the phone if it rings, you are not getting the full extent of your break. Because you are required to remain on the premises you are considered to still be working, even if the phone never rings. In this case, you would have to be compensated for your time.

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We base our practice on the principles of service and care. We take the time to truly know each and every client, and we put all of our energy into obtaining the best outcome possible, time and time again.

Our Definition Of Success

We will prosecute your case to the fullest extent possible. If you’ve been wronged by an employer in Georgia, you can count on Ben Barrett Law to fight for you.

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