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Oncall / Pager - How does your company handle it?

Discussion in 'Business & Enterprise Computing' started by RavenKittie, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. RavenKittie

    RavenKittie Member

    Dec 12, 2002
    Hello B&E pals,

    Bit of back story to this thread. I've been on call at my current company for just on two years (been there 3yr 3m). When I first started on call it was not a problem at all, very sparse phone calls and very sparse server issues. Fast forward to now and it's beginning to impact life in general, more things are going wrong and more out of hours work is required and more people calling for "emergencies".

    Due to a lack of numbers I am on call two out of every four weeks (two week stretches at a time).

    I do not get paid for being on call. We worked off a "time in lieu" scenario but it's never ever 1 to 1 ratio. When you want to take it you can't because someones away or there won't be any coverage for that time etc. Also there is an issue on my side, I felt guilty taking the time as we have a small team, by the time I wanted to take it (at a time that suited me!) or should take it the time has been long forgotten...

    Do you get time in lieu and record the time spent? Does it vary if it's 3am in the morning as apposed to 9pm at night? Do you get paid for just being on call? Do you get other bonuses? If you spend a long stretch working do you have the option to pass on call to someone else? What do you think "reasonable overtime" is?

    I'm going to speak to the relevant parties about this at work but before I do I wanted to get some feedback from some others in similar situations.

    How do you handle on call? Are you happy with your arrangement?
  2. FiShy

    FiShy Member

    Aug 15, 2001
    you dont get paid you dont answer...

    HUMMER Member

    Dec 1, 2002
    if you get paid for it. make sure you get paid the right amount. if its time off in lieu then note it down somewhere so you know exactly how much you have accumulated.
  4. JET-RS

    JET-RS Member

    Dec 5, 2003
    We receive a phone call from our outsourced after hours call center. One primary person and one back up if already on a job. I'm on call every 6 weeks or so but lately more often than that.

    Few weeks back I got 6 call outs and it was hell, worked my standard 40 hour week, one job on the thursday night then 5 on sat/sunday. Calls at midnight and 4am are not fun. Had to take the monday off as I had worked 14 days straight, could barely function.

    We get $150 standby and then each call out is 4 hours double time minimum. So the money is great but I'm really over it all and wish I wasn't on call.

    edit. oops this is B&E computing, not really related I guess (trade)

    HUMMER Member

    Dec 1, 2002
    when i was oncall the pay was if you get a call in that hour you get paid 1 hour. if you get two calls in that hour. its still 1 hour.

    first 2 hours is 1.5x the rest is 2x. unless its public holiday. then its all 2.5x
  6. DeVo

    DeVo Member

    Jan 3, 2002
    From my experience, it depends on the environment, the size of the company, the size of the team, how much your base salary is, your position within the team/company etc. There are many factors.

    TOIL for on call doesn't work in general in my opinion though. You need to get paid for when you work because as you said, whether it's because you feel bad or just because there is too much work on, you never get a 1:1 ratio. Plus an hour of work getting woken up at 3am and disturbing your missus is worth more than an hour of work during business hours!!

    If your company can't afford to pay for on-call work, then perhaps the issues aren't actually worth that much to the business and perhaps they don't need someone on-call at all. If they can afford it, then they should be paying you. Not just for the hours you work, but a retainer fee as well.
  7. itsmydamnation

    itsmydamnation Member

    Apr 30, 2003
    the thing to remember its not your problem if you dont do oncall because you dont get paid, its your managers. Dont be afraid to put the onus on them, its up to them to come up with a solution and its up to you to hold them to it.
  8. Shags

    Shags Member

    Jul 29, 2004
    At my last company i thnk it was incredibly unfair, $200 per week for being on call 24/7, So kiss goodbye to doing anything 20 minutes+ away from a PC and net connection, got calls at all hours of the morning, You could get a call at 11pm and work on it untill 2am, when asking the boss if we could come into work late, his response "No, that's what you're paid your oncall allowance for".

    Right, so $200 ($~140 after tax) can equal working every night for 2-3 hours plus your weekends nearly all day, So glad i've left that place.
  9. s3kemo

    s3kemo Member

    May 13, 2003
    in a house
    only recently introduced rostering system. small company, small team (6-8) and paired up for a half-week at a stretch. that said, if the issue calls for it, we're expected to answer a call from the oncall guys if they need any of us specifically.

    our boss doesnt keep track of time in lieu or anything, we're not paid for being on call, but if we ever want leave we always get it no questions asked. he doesn't care if i turn up at midday after a night on call or if i just take the day off without saying why. i also get 6 weeks paid leave a year, so that's always pretty good!

    so nothing is official, no on call work is ever paid, but shitloads of flexibility to even things out. it suits me.
  10. holdennutta

    holdennutta Member

    Apr 14, 2002
    I haven't started call yet - and this is in the medical field but I am fairy sure our deal is:

    Per call: Min 4 hours pay whether the call is 10min work or 4hrs work.
    Once you leave the hospital and are called again it's another 4hrs pay. So on and so forth.

    Call is generally a couple of days at a time, not much more.

    There is bugger all money if you don't get called in, though. Only $20 or something.

    Depending on the site it'll either be a set number which is diverted to our number while we're on call or a 'on call roster' is distributed to the switch who makes the calls.
  11. serex

    serex Member

    Aug 22, 2002
    Griffin, QLD
    We have a 24/7 on-call roster for our team. The team comprises of 4 people + the manager (who isn't included with our tech on-call roster but he is part of the roster for primary/secondary escalation). Our roster starts on Friday so the person taking over should have been to the weekly change board meeting and be aware of all upcoming changes.

    During our week of on-call, we only accept incoming calls from this primary or secondary escalation manager for the week, everyone else is directed to these people.

    After we finish our week we fill in our "On-Call Allowance" form. This will give us a small payment in our next pay. If we are to get a call we will then fill out our Overtime form which stipulates how long we were on the call and brief details.

    During our week of On-Call we are required to be within 30 minutes driving distance of our facility, have the phone on us at all times (10 minute call back allowed if you are in the shower or something), be carrying the laptop on your at all times, not be affected by alcohol etc etc.

    I believe for the inconvenience it causes, you should be paid at an understanding rate to do this. And although we have all these processes in place, this will be my 3rd week on-call in a row...
  12. Lukenet

    Lukenet Member

    Oct 4, 2002
    Ok, from a bosses point of view here.

    When you go and have your chat with him/her make sure you speak about the facts of the case and your issue in terms of the negative issues for the company. i.e. burnout, system not working.

    Back this up with facts that are meaningful for the boss. I would be documenting all hours spend servicing your on call requests, note the time and basic issue notes i.e. less than 50 words.

    This will go a long way to assist the boss to understand what you deal with. Also, you will have to spell it out, i.e. Can't drink, can't travel to far from work, can't plan to do anything, can't make appointments to organise your personal life, etc.. i.e. Impact of on call on your life.

    Let him know you feel bad about taking time off due to small team, limited resources etc..

    Now, important bit, come along with a solution that you thing will fly and has a chance to being accepted. It will increase your standing with him/her as you will be seen as a fix it person, which you are..

    on the other hand, if he/she does not budge or does not give a fruit, start looking on seek.com for your new job or go in hard for pay review.
  13. mrpats

    mrpats Member

    Dec 18, 2002
    where I work (state govt) on-call is paid as a monthly allowance. It's based on the hours you are on call. Our business hours are 7am-7pm, so I'm on call for 12 hours on a weekday and 24 hours on the weekend.

    On top of that if I get a call I get paid my hourly rate. We claim in 15 min blocks.

    It sounds like you have a pretty crappy arrangement. I'd read your job description and your contract.

    Explain to your boss that you appreciate the need for on call etc, but you should be remunerated for the impact on your personal life. This may mean a pay rise in general to cover the extra responsibility, or offer an incentive to other team members to be on call. eg. $500 a month for on call.

    Whats happening so frequently that you are getting paged to do work?
  14. Primüs

    Primüs Member

    Apr 1, 2003
    This could be the other part of your solution, identify what it is generating these calls, and use your paid business hours to come up with a solution for this.

    If you stop the calls generating again you may not mind your current arrangement again, and you may find if its causing after hours work, its possibly causing business hours work too so you could be freeing up more time in the day (making it easier to get your time in lieu).

    Most people would come back and say budget etc doesn't allow to fix the problems that are occuring, well i'd start putting it this way to the manager's:

    To fix the issue will cost a once off of $10,000 (random numbers)

    At our current rate of after hours work, at a fair rate with retainer, your looking at $2000/month, so after 5 months you'd have already paid the amount to fix the issue in the first place and anything after this is unnecessary loss.

    Like i said these numbers are completely arbitrary, but when spinning it to the business types you need to speak to their wallet (as that's what a business is there for).

    This is of course assuming that they'd be open to suggestions of more compensation for on call work, but if they aren't open to those suggestions im not sure i'd like to work for them anyways.
  15. Ding.Chavez

    Ding.Chavez Member

    Jul 27, 2001
    I have my work phone / BB on me 24/7/365 - I claim in-leiu for work I do out of hours but I never really do for small things, its just part of the job.

    But, my old work yeah we got a monthly allowance for being on call. It was like 200 pounds a month extra (in london).

    But yeah, I guess that I have a "real" job now its just PART of the job.
  16. DTG

    DTG Member

    Sep 16, 2002
    Melbourne, Aust
    I am part of a 2 man on call roster. 1 week on, 1 week off. There is a 3rd guy (our boss) that does take it and respond to issues a lot of the time.

    We are paid $3/hour to be on call (~$10k/year). We also get get our standard hourly rate for call outs. Have just switched to salary based pay so they factored it in as 30 hours a year call outs (avg for the last 2 years). Since July I have had 33 hours call out already, the other guy has had 2. Something to address with it gets reviewed next year.

    We get supplied a mobile, laptop and wireless card so can trouble shoot while being out, and need to respond within an hour.

    We were getting a lot of stupid calls about phones being down (the numbers they were calling were disconnected) and account lock outs etc which are NOT issues for the on call system. Did some basic training and wrote some tools to automate a lot of those tasks and its been back to normal levels for the last 6 weeks.
  17. Nyarghnia

    Nyarghnia (Taking a Break)

    Aug 5, 2008
    You are an idiot if you do this, simple as that...

    Don't worry, I was an idiot too.

    Once you put yourself on the spot to be 'on call' it will ALWAYS, ALWAYS ALWAYS end up being one or two days here and there, then it will be one week in 3 then one week in 2 then .. you're on call 24 x 7 all the time and not being paid for it, it will become 'part of your' job scope.


    Even if means quitting or getting a job somewhere else...

    Don't listen to any bullshit about being a valued member of the team, the only means by which 'value' is measured by a company is by what's in your pay packet, everything else is simply bullshit. If you are going to be on call... then you get PAID for the time that you are on call and then you get PAID for being actually called out... here is why:

    A) Being on call puts restrictions on your movements, if you're on 24hr call and you may need to go in to work, then forget about going on that interstate or overseas holiday
    B) Even if you don't need to go in, you need to lug all this gear with you to enable remote access if it's needed and then.. you may still need to go in
    C) You have to keep checking your phone, your pager, whatever... every time your phone rings you ask yourself 'is this a work callout?', trust me after some years of this it starts to take
    it's toll on you, it also makes it a LOT harder to actually relax even when you leave the office, because.. you're still in 'work mode'.

    If the employer doesn't see this, then they're just taking you for a ride son.

    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  18. capt0

    capt0 Member

    Jun 27, 2001
    ours is quite simple.

    We get paid $5/hr for being on call. If we get called we gat paid 2 hours at double time as a minimum and then double time there after the initial 2 hours.

    That is government though.

    Old job we got paid an on call allowance regardless the number of times you were called.

    IIRC it was $80 a week day and $160 a weekend day.
  19. darken_rahl

    darken_rahl Member

    Feb 3, 2003
    Melbourne VIC
    Yep, I seriously agree that this is unacceptable, unless you're getting paid ridiculous amounts of money as it is.

    Ask them for on call pay. Lots of it. A premium and then also an excess of a couple of hours double time for any calls. If they're not VERY RECEPTIVE to this, then vote with your feet.

    I've only spent a very short time at one company that dicks around its workers with no overtime pay+low wage etc.

    At one of my jobs now I am basically on call 24/7 and I only get paid my usual rate for time worked (including travel time on the rare occasion that I need to physically go in to work for it), but I'm OK with this because I get paid veeery very nicely. And also if I'm out drinking or unavailable I can say I'll get to it in the morning if it's anything other than catastrophic failure.

    It's worth shopping around for a company that treats you like a person.
  20. AzzKikr

    AzzKikr Member

    Aug 25, 2002
    I've worked all sorts of on call rosters:

    - Organisation A
    -- 7 person, 1 week roster
    -- $200/week on-call allowance
    -- $75/month home internet allowance
    -- Double time per hour for the time you were working
    -- Time off given if the night/weekend was particually busy
    -- No location-based requirement
    -- Need to be close to a PC with internet
    -- 0.05% BAC

    - Organisation B
    -- 2 person, both 24/7
    -- $250/week on-call allowance
    -- $100/month internet allownace
    -- Double time per hour for the time you were working (also applied to scheduled after-hours work)
    -- Time off for time worked (also applied to scheduled after-hours work)
    -- Min. 12 hour break between finishing and starting work again (also applied to scheduled after-hours work)
    -- No location requirement
    -- Need to be close to a PC with internet (Laptop + 3G provided on request)
    -- 0.05% BAC

    - Organisation C
    -- 6 person, 1 week roster
    -- No on-call allowance
    -- $50/month internet allowance
    -- No overtime
    -- No official time off in lieu (though they're usually flexible with leave, etc)
    -- Need to be within 30 mins of CBD
    -- Need to be close to a PC with internet (Laptop + 3G provided on request)
    -- Need to have 0.00% BAC

    Org B was my favourite to work for - I'm happy to put in the hours after-hours if they're going to be properly compensated. Org C claims it's built into the pay packet, and Org A thought their package was good enough.


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