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Call-Back Overtime


The following applies to General Schedule or equivalent, Foreign Service Personnel, and Federal Wage System exempt and non-exempt employees.


Call-back overtime work is irregular or occasional overtime work performed by an employee on a day when no work is scheduled, or at a time which requires the employee to return to the place of employment from an off-duty status.  Call-back overtime work is deemed not less than 2 hours (the minimum entitlement) in duration for pay or compensatory time (Title 5 United States Code 5542(b)(1)).  

If a single call-back involves the employee for more than 2 hours, and the time is continuous, the employee must be compensated for actual time. 

Multiple Entitlements

An employee who is called back more than once during the same 2-hour period is entitled to call-back overtime pay for each time called back.  Call-back overtime pay is not conditioned on the actual performance of duty. 


By definition, call-back overtime provisions do not apply to work performed by the employee when the employee works at a place of residence, when an employee lives and works on a vessel, or when the employee lives on the premises of a duty station, e.g., a remote radar site.  

An employee who corrects system problems by computer modem without returning to the workplace is not eligible for call-back pay.  However, the individual may be eligible for overtime if they have been authorized to perform work at or from their residence.  Overtime pay will be based on actual time spent in unscheduled overtime work, provided the work is substantial in nature (at least eight minutes), and approved procedures have been followed for verifying the time and performance of work.

Call-Back on a Holiday

Employees who are called back to work on a holiday are entitled to at least 2 hours pay at the holiday premium pay rate (5 U.S.C. 5546(c)).  Compensatory time off is not allowed in lieu of pay for holiday call-back. 

The holiday rate is payable for all call-back hours which correspond to the employee’s regular tour hours (non-overtime hours). 

Coextensive Entitlements

An employee who is called back on a holiday would seem to have a dual pay entitlement, i.e., under 5 U.S.C. 5546(c) (2 hours holiday call-back) and 5 U.S.C. 5542 (2 hours regular call-back).  However, for pay purposes, the entitlements are said to be coextensive, i.e., the employee's minimum entitlement (ME) is limited to 2 hours, not 4, when call-back is performed on a holiday and the entire period of call-back does not exceed 2 hours.

If the entire period corresponds to regular tour hours (non-overtime hours), the employee will be paid at the holiday rate only.  

If the call-back period on a holiday is comprised of regular tour hours (non-overtime) and overtime, the regular tour hours (non-overtime) will be paid at the holiday rate, and the overtime period at the overtime rate. (37 Comp. Gen. 1). 


Example 1 - Non-Holiday Call-Back 

An electronics technician's regular tour is Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  The employee is called back to make an emergency repair late Monday night, and works on Tuesday from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m.  He returns home and is called back for another emergency and works from 5:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. 

  • Regular tour: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Mon. through Fri.
  • Called back:
    • 1 a.m. - 2 p.m. Tues. = ME 2 hours (OT)
    • 5:30 a.m. - 6 a.m. Tues. = ME 2 hours (OT)

The employee's minimum entitlement (ME) is 2 hours overtime for the period between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. and 2 hours overtime for the period between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. for a total of 4 hours, payable at the overtime rate or by 4 hours of compensatory overtime. 

          2 hours OT + 2 hours OT = 4 hours OT

Example 2 - Holiday Call-Back Extending Beyond the Hours of the Employee's Regular Tour 

An electronics technician's regular tour is Monday through Friday 8.00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Tuesday is a legal holiday, and the employee is scheduled to be off.  The employee is called in to make an emergency repair from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

  • Regular tour: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Mon. through Fri.
  • Called back:
    • 11:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. Tues. ME = 2 hours (Holiday)
    • 4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Tues. = ME 2 hours (.5 Holiday, 1.5 hours OT rate)

The employee's entitlement to call-back pay and holiday pay are coextensive in both instances that day.  However, the first period 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. coincides wholly within hours of the employee's regular tour (non-overtime hours).  Therefore, it is paid at the holiday rate only. 

The employee's second call-back consists of a period which coincides with his regular hours and the remainder which is overtime.  The period between 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. must be paid at the holiday premium pay rate; the remaining period of the ME of 2 hours must be paid at the overtime rate or by compensatory time. 

          2.5 hours Holiday + 1.5 hours OT


Reviewed by OHRM, March  2020.
References:  Title 5 United States Code §§ 5542(b)(1), 5546(c); Title 5, CFR 550.112(h), 551.401(e).