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when on-call isn't on-call

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my current employee asked me to be on-call to monitor computers / servers. its something i'm used to with various jobs but i'm in something of a dispute with them now about the definition of on-call.


they basically want me to monitor an email box of incidents 24/7 one week in three. The problem is the sheer volume, yesterday there was 30 incidents that needed a response to - the day before over 100. A response could take a few minutes to a few hours depending upon the issue. This isn't on-call its constant service monitoring.


they have said they expect me to have my phone wake me anytime of night as many times as needed so solve these problems whilst doing a normal 9-5 per day also. There is no extra pay for this they say its expected and part of salary which isn't great anyhow in fact my pay has shrunk back to what i was earning in 2004 thanks to a few redundancies yay.


This company doesn't provide any critical services so its not like i'm on-call for a 999 service or anything. The only thing at risk is the managements wallet.


i tried this for a while but when i started having to justify what i was doing after going home i got a bit annoyed, then one evening i was visiting my mother in hospital who had had a fall and the next day got an earfull of agro for missing a problem. they were asking why i didn't bring a laptop to the hospital. since then i have refused to do any on-call at all.


there are two other people who do the same job as me and they have had to do my on-call since i refused, i originally tried desperately to get them to stand up to d'management so we could do shifts and reduce the amount of our free time taken but they are too scared of being sacked and will just go along with anything the company owner wants.


my contract does not state on-call but just some vague catch all clause that sometimes out of hours work will be required within reason.. it specifically does not mention being on-call at all.


to try and be reasonable i offered to work shifts without any extra pay so they would have people to monitor systems but they will not change anything stating the company is too small to support any shift patterns. although they do like to brag how many millions they make a year :|


So now they want me to leave and have been interviewing for my replacement, i don't really care so much as iv'e never had any issues finding a job and have been in work for 24 years, i own my own house with no mortgage and very little debt. i told them then i wont quit but i will be reasonable if they give me time to attend interviews ie i wont hold anything against them.


I'm hoping i get another job soon but if it does come down to being sacked would they be within their rights? everything i look at has contradictory advice like on-call isn't covered by normal employment hours regulation.




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Hello and welcome to CAG.


Weekends are always quiet here, but I hope the forum guys will be along later.


I agree with you that what you are being asked to do sounds tough, but sadly I don't understand the legal or employment position on being on call. I expect people who do will be here with advice for you when they can.


My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum




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For something like this they should be employing cover for this. Do you have a 24/7 Service Desk or 3rd party that could cover these?

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What I would do is write to the company HR (always get proof of posting) and ask for clarification of the On Call Policy and Procedure.


Therefore you require a copy of the companies Policy and Procedure for On Call.


You really need to see this before proceeding further that is my opinion thou but others may advise.

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Fairly certain that there won't be a policy for on-call - sounds more like something made up on the hoof under the 'reasonable extra hours in the interests of the business' clause, so th ekey word would be 'reasonable'. In order to present any argument against what they are asking being reasonable, you will need to keep detailed records of exactly how much 'working' time is involved. Log all tasks and how long they take and come up with the amount of extra work that is involved. If this is a one in three rota, then you should be able to quantify how reasonable or otherwise the extra work is in relation to your wage packet. Take that forward as a grievance and present a case that the arrangement is unworkable and unreasonable - better still if you can get the other two colleagues to do likewise.


Now if they were to offer additional pay or time off in lieu then that would add to their argument that any such request or expectation is 'reasonable'

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thanks for the replies. sidewinder is right, its a policy made up on the hoof and not documented, the first thing i asked for was for management to put some parameters around this on-call in a policy but it still does not exist. Im sure if they try to document it, they would see how unreasonable it is so it remains just an expectation.


its come down to a threat of stay in the company and comply or leave. I agree that they will hide behind the any reasonable request clause. I'm fairly sure given the sheer volume of requests i could fairly easily show it to be an unreasonable request.


the other two guys wont stand up for themselves although i know they find the amount of their personal take taken to be overwhelming and interfering with their family life.


thanks for the info, hopefully ill be moving on in january if the job hunting goes well so this wont matter anymore :| if not ill look at the grievance depending upon how they try to dispose of me!

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