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Is Available for work the same as being on call?
At first I thought the answer was no. Now, I am beginning to think this is one of the grey areas in which the Postal Service can play you.
I still think that being available should mean that you don’t have to stand by the telephone and give up your regular life waiting for a call from the Postal Service to come to work. Another words, If you go fishing at 6:00 in the morning and you receive a call from the Postal Service to come to work at 7:00 I don’t think you are responsible to be near the telephone.
According to the article “Paying Employees Who Are On Call or Traveling for Business”
you should pay an employee when there time is being used for there employer and not for themselves.
Being on call seems to be an unclear part of the FLSA. The definition being available for work seems to make it even less clear. What does being available for work mean? It is one of those things that our managers can define after the fact.
If you aren’t near the telephone when a manager calls then the manager can claim that our contract said you should be available for work. If you file a grievance to be paid for being near the telephone waiting for calls from a manager then the manager can say “I did not say you had wait near the telephone”.
The whole issue seems to come down to whether the employee has been "engaged to wait" or is "waiting to be engaged." as shown in this article.
When do you have to pay employees for being on call?
I have not found any answers in Postal Service manuals on this issue. I have also looked to see if I could find something on a City Carrier web site. Still, no luck.
Because Rural Carriers have substitutes that are supposed to be available most of the time I think we need to have this issue made clear. I think our fearless national union leaders should have this situation clarified.
I can only express my personal opinion as I am not a Steward or and attorney.