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HMRC internal manual

National Minimum Wage Manual

Working time: time work; on call and stand by

Relevant legislation

The legislation that applies to this page is as follows:

* National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015, regulation 32



The terms “on call” and “stand by” are commonly used to describe an arrangement where a worker makes themselves available to respond to work as and when required.

For national minimum wage purposes the actual arrangements need to be considered to determine whether the worker is performing work during such “on call” periods, such as waiting time (NMWM08260). Areas to consider will be the contractual requirements imposed on the worker, for example, if a worker is restricted to a place specified by the employer or whether the worker is required to perform any duties whilst “on call”.

When considering such arrangements it might be helpful to consider the restrictions and level of burden imposed on the worker as a guide when forming a view. For example, a worker who is not required to report to the employer but is free to be at home, or any place of their choosing and simply ensure that they are able to be contacted if needed may not be working during the time they are not responding to their employer/work. However, a worker required to spend their “on call” time at an employer’s premises may be treated as working, even if they are relaxing or watching television.

Restrictions regarding conduct or safety, such as being unable to drink alcohol during a period of “on call”, will not necessarily mean that the worker is working during such periods. Such restrictions are more likely to relate to a worker being responsible for ensuring that they are in a position to perform work if/when required rather than them being employed not to drink alcohol.

Any time a worker performing time work is responding to their employer/work during a period of being “on call” is treated as working time for national minimum wage purposes.

Special consideration is required for any “on call” and “stand by” time which involves the worker using facilities provided by the employer to sleep at or near a place of work (NMWM08280).