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On Call and Underpaid in IT/IS?

Cliff posted more than 13 years ago | from the fair-recompensation dept.

News 425

An Anonymous Coward asks: "I work for a Fortune 100 company, that I wish to remain anonymous. But recently an issue has come up dealing with on call pay; we are responsible for monitoring systems outside of normal business hours, but are hourly employees. It has been brought up to management if only being paid when an issue occurs is legal, since we must be ready at any moment to respond to system troubles/pages outside of the normal business hours we are paid for, which includes not being able to go out of town, etc. I've asked around, but with little success, being that a large portion of Slashdot readers are in the IT/IS field I would think that someone has dealt with simular issues and would be able to offer suggestions or outline their on call pay structure so that so that I can approach management/HR. Any examples of past experiences or how you dealt with such issues would be helpful, management is more than willing to work with us."

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Re:Call a contract lawyer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255527)

Congratulations on giving what will probably be the only good advice this poor bastard recieves. While Ask Slashdot questions are a great way to generate discussion, anyone who floows it for legal advice is just asking to get shit on.

Dusty Hodges

Re:Counterexample (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255528)

Actually, most cops spend their days patrolling in the cars. Clearly they're busy.

Firemen are actually much more busy than you might expect. Turns out the average firehouse (at least in my city) rolls 4 to 8 times a day. They roll for auto accidents, medical emergencies, cats on roof's, whatever. Fires are only a small portion of what they actually do.

on call (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255529)

I used to work as a systems engineer for an ISP which involved being on call on a fairly regular basis. If you are a salaried employee, and provided being on-call was revealed to you before you took the job, then its part of the job. On the other hand if it was something sprung later on, after you started, it would be grounds for asking for more money.

In the case where you are an hourly employee, I believe the status quo is to pay per incident. So if you are woken up at 4am by your pager, and you spend 3 hours fixing something, you get paid for the 3 hours rather than the 12 hours you might have been on-call for. Most places I've seen put salaried employees on-call and just pay them a load of money :)

In my case, I was salaried, but being on-call was played down to seem like once in a while, but that turned out not to be the case. The attitude I took, while I was on-call or for maintenance windows, was if I was in from 3am until 7am, I would either stay there and leave around noon for the day, or go home, sleep and work a few hours in the afternoon. Company never had any issues with that. I needed my "sleep" :)

It sounds like your case is pretty normal, most companies only pay for incidents. If you have to physically go somewhere, take the time into account from the moment you receive the call until the moment you return home as the amount of time worked on the problem. If you find yourself on-call a little too much, you should bring it up with your management. I know in our case, our management worked pretty proactively to introduce 24 hour customer support to remove a lot of the small issues from our hands and into the hands of customer support, so we only handled critical issues. Depending on the company, it might be better to have someone there 24/7.. removing the need for on-call..

Re:on call pay (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255530)

e are responsible for monitoring systems outside of normal business hours, but are hourly employees

I'm confused.

Shouldn't you be happy you have a job in the first place? Corporations aren't hiring you just for fun, you know. They expect you to work for your pay! You should be posting anonymous. I would never hire someone like you to my company.

Re:on call pay (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255531)

It's about time that people realize that it's a much better deal to be a contract worker than a salaried employee. I am a contractor, have insurance through my agency and still get paid more than 15k/year more than the salaried full-time employees in my group. Switching to a salaried position does nothing for you as an individual. It only gives the company more money cuz they do not have to pay you overtime. If you can avoid it don't go salaried in IT/IS!!!!

Re:For Us, it works like this: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255532)

That sounds pretty much like the deal I hear most hourly employees get: $x for being on call + $y*hours for actually being called. The minimum 4 hours for actually being called would be great if you can get it, but most people I know of only get a minimum of 1 hour.

Most salaried employees I know tend to get compensated with extra time off only if they're being called in excessively and burning out, the theory being that being on call is part of the job and was already included as a factor in compensation.

Re:on call requirements (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255533)

...they basically said that if you do not like the company and its conditions, quit.

my god, imagine that. if you don't like the terms of the job you're in, quit. what a newfangled idea.

all you do when you pass regulations and whine to the government about your labor relations is make businesses more expensive to run, ergo less money to attract more employees, ergo fewer people paid less.

and before someone spews that employers are just greedy, remember that they are people too. happy employees make for a good working environment, which they like. better employees, for which they would pay more to get on their side, make for a good working environment, which they like.

Re:On-call equals working (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255534)

About 5 or 6 years ago there was a lawsuit in Washington State where sawmill workers were not paid yet were REQUIRED to be on call. They won. If you are required to be on call you have to be compensated. If it is a situation where if they get a hold of you, you have to work, that is different.

On call payment / non-payment (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255535)

FLSA based case law says you are being screwed if your employeer is covered by FLSA. Check out FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act cases online. FLSA is a Federal Law and applies to most organizations that are "large enough" or have an interstate presence. This might cover your employer. If not, then you are stuck with state law, specifically the state where your employeer is located. There are state FLSAs in many states. The American Bar association has something called ALI-ABA. Check out their FLSA materials. If you prepare most of your case as an outline or brief you can use a lawyer more effectively. Create a class of workers in the same boat or "similarly situated". Be prepared to be blacklisted and fired if you seek justice. The firing will be in retaliation for your action but they will claim otherwise. They will also claim you are not an employee even if you are a W-2 employee for tax purposes. The two laws are different. You have to prove you are an employee. They will also claim they are not covered by FLSA. By forming a class you raise the stakes. If they have done this in the past and have been sucessfully sued by other workers then their action is willful in the TWA case sense and you can get damages equal to your backwage claim. They will no like this but c'est la vie. They will also try to claim you are really salaried and therefor not entitled to overtime time and one half or straight. If you make below a magic hourly rate (usually around $27.00 or so) your overtime is time and one half, not straight. See a lawyer, but specifically a labor lawyer. A FLSA law professor at a local law school is a place to start. Some professors might be willing to use you a material for an existing class. If you want to become a law stutdents lab animal it might work out well for you. If there is no FLSA law class meeting then a labor law class (unions and workers rights) might do. Good Luck. Depending on the period covered as well as their willful ness you show be able to get enough back wages to buy a nice system of your own. Be sure to e-mail to yourself to a non company account (e.g. any work or rotation schedules, e-mails, e-mails requesting that you be on call. These things will suddenly go missing the minute you take any action, so you need your own hardcopy as well as a proof of where it came from. Have you done jury duty? Were you paid for the entire jury duty? Or were you docked pay? Ironically if you were docked that proves under FLSA case law you are HOURLY and therefor governed by FLSA.

Re:On-call equals working (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255536)

Sometimes "Programmer-Analysts" is a generic job title for "Works in IT". Not necessarily a programmer or a analyst. (Especially true for government or universities that have civil service rules).

Premium to wages (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255559)

I used to work in the IT department of a Canadian University. It was a Unionized environment. Members of the IT department who were forced to wear pagers were given a pay premium on regular wages. (e.g. $1/hr or similar)

In addition, if you're called in to work, then you're paid hourly, and for a 3-hour minimum. (Travel time not included.) I think it was just a basic rate of pay (not overtime pay), but I might be mistaken.

So those are the two standards you might present to the HR department:
1. basic premium for being on-call
2. compensation when called in

Re:On call pay (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255560)

Installed NT huh?

Re:On-call equals working (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255561)

I agree, on-call equals working. At my last company, I began work as a contractor and after a few months decided to take the permanent position they offered. No matter what my status, I was always paid a fixed rate for on-call work. Everyone in the on-call rotation was given the same fixed amount for the week that they were on call, no matter how many times they were called. It seemed to work out fine.

You're not that important, management doesn't care (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255565)

I'm serious. I may sound like I'm being a dick, but it's true. The attitude of "I'm always on-call and can't do anything" is a direct result of trying to make yourself "too" indispensable. I'm working on getting over that myself, in fact, so I know what I'm talking about.

If you're a member of a larger team, use a rotation, if you aren't already. It may take a cycle or two for everyone to being crosstrained enough to deal with basic daily issues, but in the long run, if it's someone else's week, you can actually go out of town!

On the other hand, if you're like me, the "only" one who does specifically what you do, you still need to build up a crosstraining program with other people. Maybe you agree to pool some on-call responsibilities with other people in the same boat. The same thing will happen, after a few cycles of rotation, there will be sufficient knowledge for everyone to handle the basics.

Management doesn't give a rat's ass who's on-call, who has the knowledge, how many people it takes to fix a problem. They just want it fixed. They aren't going to care whether or not your team (by org chart or as above, by need) is on a rotation or that it's not necessarily you that's fixing their problem. All they want is to make one phone call, and it gets fixed. It's up to you and your team to adopt a way of making that happen, and yes, it is possible without having to spend all your time waiting by the phone, car keys in hand.

Re:Employers have been doing this for years... (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#255567)

Exactly! I work for a municiple government and am Unionized. And as luck would have it, this very topic came up in contract negotiations this last round! The Union proposed the following setup:

Two tiers: On-Call, and Incident resolution
Techs get paid $45/day regular-workweek, $60/day weekend ($90/holiday), for each 24-hour period on-call. Duties include:
* Respond to page within 30 minutes
* Able to be on-site within 60 minutes of response to page

Incident response:
2-Hours OT-pay (or hours-worked, which ever is larger) for over-phone or remote-login resolution
4-Hours OT-pay (or hours-worked, which ever is larger) for on-site fix.

Management rejected the on-call provision on the contract. So now, thanks to the Union, those employees formerly "on-call" have taken to leaving their pagers at work. And if their managers raise havock about that, the employees can point to the contract and say, "You can't force me to take this home with me," and be right.

Sometimes, Unions are nice things.

Hourly VS Salary; Primary on-call VS Opt. on-call (1)

backtick (2376) | more than 13 years ago | (#255585)

At some places I've worked, and as far as I know this was per federal and state law (YMMV, IANAL, etc) since we checked it out along with HR and a wage attorney, salaried workers can be held as 'primary on-call' workers as a portion of their jobs with no added benefits or monetary compensation. Hourly workers must be paid standard rates (or overtime if by being on call they exceed the limiting number of hours) for times when they are 'primary on-call' workers, meaning that they MUST respond to a page. However, hourly workers CAN be held as 'optional' on-call workers where they can be paged in for extra work, but not paid until they report in, so long as they cannot be held accountable for not responding.

As an example, at one place of employment, an employer might require his hourly workers to stay in the building during lunch hours in case of emergency. In that case, they legally GET a lunch break as they are not on standard job activities and can go eat lunch, but it must be PAID break. So, they might work 9 hours in one shift, and the company is legally allowed to do this so long as that certain period is designated as a lunch break, so long as the hourly employee is paid for being 'on-call'.

At another place of employment, the same kind of workers can be held as 'optional' on-call workers, allowed to leave the building during lunch, and are not paid extra unless they get paged and respond. However, if they do not respond, they cannot be held accountable, as they were on a 'not on primary call' lunch break. However, if they do, they are then paid standard or overtime pay for any time normally on lunch break that was spent working on the problem.

Your time (5)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 13 years ago | (#255588)

The time is yours. You must decide what you think is fair. If you are not allowed to go out of town on certain days, you should decide how much money that means to you, demand it from your employer, and either get it or walk away. If monitoring servers takes away from your spare time, you should set a value on that. Each individual is responsible for his own compensation.

My advice can only come from my own perspective. In any job, I insist that the duties are specifically detailed and known in advance. I do not put up with open-ended assignments, or requests to work outside of normall business hours which are brought up less than two weeks in advance. After all, I notify my employer two weeks before I intend to take vacation, or resign. If your job consists of monitoring operations at certain times of the day, week, or month, I would simply require that all those hours spent monitoring operations be compensated at the hourly rate. If you have to be on-call but not actively working, bill those hours at a reduced rate, but bill them just the same.

Tech workers who put up with a lot of BS should get paid for it. Auto mechanics and welders leave their work behind at 5:00 spot on, their brains synchronized precisely to the atomic clock of the Naval Observatory. The electricians and builders who work in my building work, by my honest observation, 2 hours per day. They certainly can't be reached outside of the 9:00-15:00 time window. If your employer wants you to spend your entire life at work, you should either say no or get paid accordingly.

Not as cool as it may seem... (2)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 13 years ago | (#255589)

I was a salaried employee at one place, and as part of downsizing they decided that developers should take part in tech support. So we took turns carrying a beeper. No compensation, just the laudable privilege of helping out our employer. Now I always make sure to make that a negotiating point -- if they won't put a "no beepers" clause in the contract, it means extra money.

In healthcare..... (4)

nilepoc (7329) | more than 13 years ago | (#255593)

I am an RN and When I choose to take a call shift, I get $2.50 an hour for each hour that I am tied to my cell phone. If called in, I get double time. While this is not the IT/IS industry, I do know that the hospital IS/IT people get the same deal. As an added bonus, since call is a requirement for the job, I get to write off a portion of my cell phone bill.

social security is your friend (3)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 13 years ago | (#255594)

Call the Social Security office, explain your
concern in terms of the amount of the SS
"contribution" versus your hours. If there
is any discrepancy between the hours you
worked and the amount of social withheld,
the Atty General of your state might become
very interested in matters.

On Call Pay (1)

Maxx (9947) | more than 13 years ago | (#255599)

I also work for a fortune 100 company and our agreement to our customer is a response back to them for severe outages within 15 minutets, 24x7. We get paid for two extra hours every weekday and 3 extra hours every weekend day that we have the pager, whether it ever goes off or not. If we DO end up getting paged, we get additional pay for the time spent with the customer. We rotate the pager throughout the team as well so no one's on call for more than a week at a time.

As a matter of fact, this past weekend I got paged at 3:00am and was on the phone with the customer for the next twelve hours! Thank god for that extra pay!

Hope this helps.

Re:Counterexample (1)

T-Ranger (10520) | more than 13 years ago | (#255601)

Well, if the movie Serpico is accurate, at the time (early 1970s) cops went home after they made an arrest. Street cops were expected to make one arrest a shift, no more no less..

Count your blessings (5)

Ouroboro (10725) | more than 13 years ago | (#255607)

Count your blessings my friend. Many "On Call" individuals that I know are salaried. That means that no matter how many pages you answer and how many hours you work you are paid the same amount.

How it works at my company (1)

ndege (12658) | more than 13 years ago | (#255613)

Well, the same issue came up at my job. We talked with management and agreeded to be paid for at least one hours worth of work at time and a half. Even if it is a 3 min call to answer some stupid question, I get 1.5 hours worth of pay. If the task takes more than an hour, I remain getting paid 1.5 times the normal rate.

It isn't that great, but I think it is fair...


Good luck to you... (3)

JF (18696) | more than 13 years ago | (#255625)

I'm personnally not paid for being on call. I simply get the hours I work on emergency off the next week, or something similar.

Being paid by the hour, it would only be appropriate that you are paid when you're on call, perhaps on a reduced $$/hour. That's what was happening at my previous place of employment.

How we did it. (1)

Cedric C. Girouard (21203) | more than 13 years ago | (#255629)

Way back when, we had the following structure :

1 week pager duty, on rotation paid 8 hours extra.
Any calls you got on that paid a minimum of 3 hours (which is minimal call-back pay in Quebec).
The year I worked there, my OT pay was 1.5 time bigger then my regular pay.

What I've seen. (5)

Hackysack (21649) | more than 13 years ago | (#255633)

I've seen a few ways of doing this.

The one which I though was the most fair, was a setup I had at a company a few years back.

When on-call, you'd get an hourly rate for incidents. The smallest increment was 1 hour, with a 4 hour base. In other words if it took me 30 mins to resolve a problem, I'd get to bill for 4 hours.

If it took me 4.5 hours to fix a problem, I would get to bill for 5 hours.

Additionally, you got 8 hours "for free" for carrying the phone per week. It's not really "free" as is mentioned in the article header, but it seemed enough.

On a good week, you'd get 8 hours to haul around a cellphone. On a bad week you'd easily be able to get 40+ hours of overtime while working about 8.

Seemed fair to me.

Re:an observation and an advice (2)

suraklin (28841) | more than 13 years ago | (#255640)

Observation: You should not be an hourly employee

Salary is not any better. It may seem like a good idea but in most companies salaried employees do not get any compensation for working excess hours. You get paid the same weather you work the 35-40 hours required or 70.

bend over ... take it ... (1)

bemis (29806) | more than 13 years ago | (#255642)

... only mostly kidding -- as a contractor particularly you'll see alot of this (the situation described seems very contractor-ish) ... i've experienced it for several years and only recently have discovered the worse arena of salaries. anyway -- there are ways around the pager -- i've lost more pagers than i care to remember due to inconvenient timing of their going off (mid-drink some friday night -- pager explodes against brick-barroom-wall/hunting -- pager explodes in a skeet-shooting "accident") -- and oddly enough my bosses understood ... just my experience.

Re:Call a contract lawyer (5)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 13 years ago | (#255645)

You are correct if the question was posed by someone under contract. However, if one is a full-time employee, then the odds are that an explicit contract does not exist. As the person in question is hourly, this is almost certainly the case. Regardless of the situation of the original poser, it is an relevant question to which the response "See a contract lawyer" is not suitable to many IT workers.

Re-phrasing the question may be of benefit:

What are the standards of practice for on-call duty?

Are you compensated for time on-call, or only for the time actually needed to respond to an emergency?

If you are paid for time on-call, what is the rate?

Hourly on-call pay (1)

MacBoy (30701) | more than 13 years ago | (#255646)

I don't know if it is required, but the telecom company that I work for pays by the day for being on call, plus wages for any call-ins that occur.

The answer from a salaried employee: comp time (5)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 13 years ago | (#255649)

Of course, you are hourly, so this may or may not work for you. But give it a try, maybe. For us salary employees, we each get a turn on the on-call pager. We have to carry it and be responsible for pages 24/7, for seven days. Then, we hand the pager over to the next guy.

...and the compensation? We get Friday off.

...and how was it handled? Rather than our bosses going and negotiating with HR (pointless), they handled it on their own. We stay at home, but as far as the bean counters know, we were here the full day.

Might work well for your situation, too. Depends on your management.

how we do it (1)

q[alex] (32151) | more than 13 years ago | (#255650)

I do network engineering at a decent sized international company, and we have a two-tier on call structure. People who are on call all of the time get 10% of their monthly salary as a shift differential. People who are on call one week a month get 6% of their monthly salary as a shift differential. If you spend more than 3 hours in during off-hours or the weekend, you can usually get some comp time for it. Most of us are pretty happy about it.

Re:Counterexample (4)

cornjones (33009) | more than 13 years ago | (#255651)

OK, this may be OT but it wouldn't be a safe world at all. as the police arrest more people, you are saying there will be less crime. i'll give you that point. so there is less crime. but the cops still need to make a living wage so they will either start arresting for small infractions or planting evidence and booking people for non existant crimes.

doesn't sound too safe to me.


You could check slashdot in the past (4)

DataSquid (33187) | more than 13 years ago | (#255652)

as this discussion came up before here [] .

no suggestion, but this is the way we do it (2)

junk (33527) | more than 13 years ago | (#255653)

whoever's on call gets this:

25 dollars a day for weekdays
50 dollars a day for weekends
100 (plus daily amount) for any issue that requires you to come into work

we're not the biggest of companies, so the odds of us being needed on the weekend are slim, so the amount isn't a whole lot. but, it's better than nothing. we still have a few bugs to work out though, this just started.

Some hourlies get paid for on-call (1)

lart (33731) | more than 13 years ago | (#255654)

A few years ago, I knew some guys who worked as hourly student interns at a Motorola facility. They would have one on-call person at a time, and he would get 1/10th of his hourly for each hour on call, and full pay for each hour he worked if he got called in on something.

Needless to say, everyone wanted to be on-call so they could get paid for sitting around.

I don't know of this is still their policy, but it is an alternative you can bring to your employer as an option for compensating on-call personnel.

Or you can just suck it up and deal like the rest of us :)

Talk to a lawyer, not Slashdot. (1)

einTier (33752) | more than 13 years ago | (#255655)

But, I don't think they have to pay you when you're on call. I've never had anyone pay me when I was hourly -- but not a contractor -- for being on call. If you're salary, it's just part of the job.

I think the problem is, yes, you are restricted, but you're not really working either. You can still go have dinner with your girlfriend, go to a movie, whatever. If you get called in, you're being paid for your interupted time. If not, it's not like you weren't able to enjoy your weekend.

Granted, you can't go out of town, and you can't drink or do drugs, but you're on call. This is part of your work responsibility, and you trade those few things you can't do for the oppourtunity to make a few extra bucks on the weekend.

You say your company is willing to work -- maybe you can get them to cave and pay you for the whole time you're on call. If you're hourly, they'll have to pay you time and a half for any hours over 40, though. Sweet gig if you can swing it. I don't know anyone that has, though.

Talk to a lawyer. $150US will be wisely spent here.

Being taken advantage of, plain and simple (1)

boxless (35756) | more than 13 years ago | (#255658)

First, if you're paid hourly, they're definitely taking advantage of you. You need to fight. It's so obvious, it almost doesn't need a lawyer.

Second, even if you are salaried, you still should fight. Why should all your weekends be hosed? You should be paid additional time for this.

If the company has problems with this, get a quote from a professional monitoring company to see what they would charge to monitor your IT systems overnight and on weekends. You'll find that it is huge $$.

Here's one way to handle it (1)

kman (44878) | more than 13 years ago | (#255664)

I did some work for an ISP recently and while I wasn't one of their on-call people, I saw how they were handling the on-call situation.

Here's what they did: you would work your regular shift and then go home and be on-call. If you received a call/page sometime that night, you'd have to take care of that problem. As soon as you received the call/page, you could put down 2 hours on your timesheet for time worked. However, any other calls you received within that two hour period would count against that same 2 hour block.

So ideally, you get a call at 1 a.m., fix the problem in 5 minutes, and cha-ching, 2 hours go on the timesheet and you go back to bed. Then at 3:05am, you get another call that takes 5 minutes to fix and cha-ching, 2 more hours on the timesheet and more beauty sleep.

Of course, in a worst case scenario, you'd get non-stop calls for two (or three or four) straight hours.

The final piece of this on-call puzzle is that the manager insisted the on-call employees get at least 8 hours of sleep after their last call. So if you took your last call at 4 a.m., they wouldn't expect you in the office until 12 p.m.

I've never been paid for on-call... (1)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 13 years ago | (#255668)

I just expect it. Once you reach a certain level in the Network/Sys Admin field you are always on may not be the primary on call person but you are ALWAYS on call.

At my current job we do a rotating shift that lasts two weeks. I don't get paid any extra for being "the" on-call person during that time. But, if I take a call for ANY reason I bill an hour, whether it took 2 mins or 59mins.

Luckily, we get VERY few off hours calls. The management here knows we aren't a 24/7 operation and makes sure that others know as well. If I got paged frequently after hours I'd definately be fighting for a "bonus" when on call.

Ahh Yess (1)

Brew Bird (59050) | more than 13 years ago | (#255670)

The old 'Us vs Them' Mentality is the 1st sign your company is going down the tubes...

Back in my days of 'on call', the engineers/SEs had the option to either take a day off (during normal business hours, your still on call) the week they were on call, or get a day with pay.

In either instance, there was always SOME kind of compensation. As soon as 'enlightened, experienced' managment took over, this practice was quickly halted, followed by the Brite Sizing of the company.

I notice today they finaly filed for chapter 11. There is a god.


Tora (65882) | more than 13 years ago | (#255678)

Danger, Will Robinson! Push that button and the suits will just put you on salary. They prefer that anyway. Just be glad you actually get paid more for doing on-call support.

They should pay you about 60% (2)

haggar (72771) | more than 13 years ago | (#255684)

I work for a certain Telecommunications/IT company that has 50k+ employees. In case of these On-call duties, it's quite normal to get the 60% of your normal hourly wage. Which is nice. So, let's say you get 100 per hour. Since you are On-call, all the time outside your normal workhours (which, in Finland, is 24 - 8 = 16) counts towards those 60%. Therefore, you make 16 * 60 = 960 per day. Which is fair, sicne you have to keep your mobile phone all the time with you, you can NOT go to theaters/cinema/football (well, at least here you are supposed to turn off your mobile in these places), most likely you can not go tracking (unless you have broadband wireless access, or you are sure you don't have to access some host remotely), and even spending intimate moments with your loved ones can be interrupted. On-call means you HAVE TO answer the call.
Usually you have to deal with people who don't understand what you're saying, or you don't understand their accent, or the call drops, or you just happened to having had a shower and the water is dropping in the phone :o)

And when you can't solve the problem, and have to escalate, oh, that's when the fun begins: is the next one in the escalation ladder actually aware of his/her position, is he/she available/willing to take the case/competent/pissed off? What if you have to escalate even further?...

This just to illustrate how painful On-call can (always) sometimes be, and that you should be paid fairly for it.

One more thing: week-ends and national holidays count as double the rate, that is, 120%. Christmas and New Year are FOUR times (240%) the normal amount, and that's very nice.

This, of course, in a country where workers have a lot of rights and protection. I dunno about USA. Still, don't sell your ass too cheap.

Redundancy is key (5)

Lxy (80823) | more than 13 years ago | (#255691)

I work for a smaller company as a sys admin, so I'm often on call. The nice thing is that management understands (is that an oxymoron?) that I can't be home 24/7 on weekends ready to go *IN CASE* the server farm decides to melt down or something. At my company, we do quadruple redundancy. Every 4th week, I'm the primary contact. I either need to fix it if I'm home, or call one of the other 3 "stand by" techs if I can't. It's worked well in that we've never experienced more than a half hour of downtime using this system, even at 2 AM when a hard drive died once. Also, when I do get called in, I get paid a buttload of overtime (especially between 12 and 7 AM) so it's worth my while.

guaranteed availability pay (5)

Schmerd (83210) | more than 13 years ago | (#255697)

I worked for HP for 5 years as a unix admin for manufacturing sites. I was always part of an on-call rotation. HP has what it calls GAP. It stands for Guaranteed Availability Pay. Basically, instead of paying you only when you get called in (and encouraging unreliable systems), they would pay you for being on-call. There would be no extra pay beyond GAP for a call-in.

I though this made a lot of sense because you still got paid even if there were no problems. It really encouraged you to make the systems as reliable as possible.

Counterexample (5)

Wind_Walker (83965) | more than 13 years ago | (#255698)

Use the counterexample that police/fire fighters are paid for their time spent, even though they do very little in terms of trying to counteract the occasional crisis that comes up.

I mean, what kind of place would we live in if police only got paid for the arrests they made? That's a rediculous idea.

That's just the way it is

No easy way. (1)

mkb (88436) | more than 13 years ago | (#255706)

Sadly, there is no easy solution.

Since the law doesn't gude us, employers will do whatever the job market will tolerate. If the job market is slow (and it has dropped of a lot here in the SF Bay Area), then it is a lot harder for employees or contractors to stipulate terms. Do your best, but don't blow a whole deal over it.

When hiring contractors, a contracting agency asked me to pay a premium of 3 (or was it 4) hours per week, with the understanding that if I had to page anybody, the first 3 (or 4) hours were already paid for. This is in 1996 or so-- things were not slow like today, but it was before the market went totally nuts.

For myself, if I am to be on-call, then I insist on having enough control over the system in question that I can prevent an after-hours problem in the first place. If I can't take reasonable steps to keep things working, then I don't want to take the heat when they break. Of course, that position won't work for everybody, especially in this market.

Unions might provide some help with this question, but fundamentally their value models don't work well in IT.

Hope that helps.


On call is on the clock (3)

Sax Maniac (88550) | more than 13 years ago | (#255707)

There are other professions that need 24/7 coverage, and, are a little more important than a computer being up. Your local hospital, for instance.

Know some nurses? The ones I know get a flat-fee of $X for being on call for that night. It is, of course less than the full hourly rate, but you get it whether or not you're called in.

The call lasts a specific time, after which, the pager is shut off. That pay is mandatory in exchange for losing your life for one night: can't go out and drink, can't travel, etc. When you come in, you're on the clock, quite possibly for overtime.

It doesn't quite sound legal to expect you to be on-call 24/7 for free. Don't stand for it. Find out what your rights are and assert them, or move on.

Setup a procedure first. (2)

madajb (89253) | more than 13 years ago | (#255709)

The first thing to do, before you even worry about being paid, is to set up a procedure/policy for when you can be called. If you are being called for every little thing, no amount of money is worth losing your coding/surfing/vegging time.

That having been said, the last place I worked on-call was a hospital, the system there worked reasonably well:
There was always a 3rd shift person in the IT dept, they were responsible for monitoring, resetting terminals, basic stuff.
After them came the "desktop staff" a group of 5 people who rotated on-call(5pm - 7am) by the week(Mon-Sun). They fixed most problems (stuck logins etc. Anything 3rd shift couldn't)
Above them was the "systems group" (me and 4 others) who were on call all the time. We fixed everything else(Servers on fire, demons have infested the network)

3rd shift got regular pay + shift differential
Desktop got $1/hour for oncall, plus time and a half (min 1 hour) if they were called.
Systems got $2/hour plus time and a half(1 hour min)
As you can see, this worked out for me. I got an extra $1024 a month, and was called...maybe...once or twice a month (by the time it filtered by 2 levels it was usually solved). And when I was called it was usually 9-10pm not late enough to ruin my night.

Whatever you do, don't go salary if you expect to be called often. One night of rebuilding servers at 2:00am while not being paid time and a half will convince you of that. Hope this helps. -ajb

Seen it work 2 ways (1)

Ded Mike (89353) | more than 13 years ago | (#255710)

1. NO on-call employees - 3 rotating shifts
2. On-call time divided into 'watches' Watch part of job description, formalized in contracts. Actual response time paid as legal over-time.

Of the two, #1 worked best, for various legal reasons.

Here, two questions come to mind. Your investment (stock options, bonuses, amount of time to find another comparable job, 'psychic' investment) in the company and the loyalty they feel they have a 'right' to demand of you.

It's reassuring to hear management is willing to work with you. That will probably change as the economy continues to shrink (especially in IT).

Our experience (2)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 13 years ago | (#255714)

This is from a University setting, but this is the package we ended up with where I worked a few years ago:

While on-call, the programmer got 20% of the lowest hourly rate for their salary grade (usually around $2/hour).
If the programmer was beeped and had to respond by either calling the operator or dialing into the system, they were paid overtime for that incident, with a minimum of 4 hours overtime paid per incident.

Good luck on getting anything similar!

extra pay for on-call work (1)

debaere (94918) | more than 13 years ago | (#255717)

My bro-in-law's ex place of work seemed to be a fair arrangement. He shared being 'on-call' with a couple other techs, so he was only on call for 1 week, off for 2 or 3 weeks. The company he worked did contract work and charged 1.5 times the regular rate, and he go to keep the 0.5.

DOS is dead, and no one cares...

Call a contract lawyer (5)

TheReverand (95620) | more than 13 years ago | (#255720)

Pay him $250. Ask him to read your contract and advise you. Don't listen to anything anyone on this website tells you. It will be invalid advice. The previous statement does not apply to me.

A good place to start (1)

m_chan (95943) | more than 13 years ago | (#255721)

would be at your own HR department.

It has been brought up to management if only being paid when an issue occurs is legal

Your HR and Payroll department will certainly have documentation of company policy. Reconcile this against what you actually are getting paid. Talk to your payroll department since you said your company is willing to work with you and gather all such documentation. Reference your research against what information you can glean from resources available from your state government, whether online or if you have to solicit it via facsimile or snail mail, or maybe walk on down to the closest state office and ask. The Legal Information Institute [] will get you started. That will help resolve the issue of legality, though it will involve more effort than just asking.

If you are not happy with the terms and conditions of your employment once you have determined its legal merits, the question becomes more muddy. Labor organization and talk thereof can polarize labor/management as well as workers themselves; be sure of your footing and your intentions if you would choose to engage that dialog.

the one-for-eight rule (1)

beagle (99378) | more than 13 years ago | (#255724)

I have always heard of friends getting one-for-eight. That is, one hour's pay for eight hours of being on-call. Of course, you're no longer "on-call" but are "on the clock" when a crisis arises.

At minimum, you should be getting one-for-eight.

On call pay (4)

lemming552 (101935) | more than 13 years ago | (#255730)

Back in 1995 when I was doing on-call IT, I was paid a salary, but when you were on-call you were paid 25% of what your salary worked out to be. The first month I was there I was the only on-call person, so I was getting a 150% of a paycheck. The system that I was babysitting needed all the attention during that time. That settled down once we had installed a reliable server and a few more people.

Several ways to deal with on-call (2)

4/3PI*R^3 (102276) | more than 13 years ago | (#255731)

I have worked "on-call" for several employers. Of which these were some of the following solutions:

Guaranteed Hours: One employer I had paid us 5 hours of OT just for being on-call for the week. Then if we actually needed to work, we got paid extra OT for the hours we worked.

Comp Time: Another employer I had allowed us to leave early or come in late to work to compensate for our on-call work withing the same pay period (he didn't want to pay OT). However, we did not have to monitor the system, we just carried pagers and when the pager went off we had to respond. The great thing though was that a lot of times the on-call guy only worked 4 days a week in the office because by the time Friday rolled around he was already at 40 hours so not too many people complained about the on-call work since that usually meant you were going to get a "paid" 3-day weekend.

Salary: The last employer I had where I was required to take an on-call shift paid us on salary and thus eliminated that whole pesky OT pay problem. However, he was pretty good about letting us mangle our hours in the office if we had a lot of after hours work we had to do.

Anyway, as with any other employer/employee relationship make sure to get the rules in writing so that there are no questions about the rules and no way for your employer to screw you out of your pay.

Doctors *do* get paid for their time. (2)

lconover (112984) | more than 13 years ago | (#255745)

Doctors are not paid for being on-call, however, they are paid in full for their services if they are forced into the office by an emergency. In the case of the original poster, I believe the issue is that even when they are called into the office, it does not go 'on the clock' since it is not scheduled work time.

While my comments are no substitute for those of an accredited lawyer, I do believe that these business practices have been done by fast food companies in the past, and successfully challenged in court. Specifically, employees of those companies would be forced to stay after hours for cleaning and not compensated for the additional time they spent in the workplace. Taco Bell had to pay an untold fortune in compensation to those employees, and that ruling may prove to be applicable in this case.

I quit over this (5)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 13 years ago | (#255756)

I had a job with Philips/Magnavox (a small branch operation, mind you, but part of the system). Because we had marketers in every part of the world, it was decided that their machines always had to be running, therefore, the IT Dept always had to be working.

I wasn't opposed to the basic idea of this - except that they didn't want to hire more people to cover the time. So 2 people who usually covered an 8 hour shift were suppose to trade off a cell phone between the two of us, and always be available during that time. If one of us took a vacation, tough - the other guy was then on for a 24 hour shift. But since we were salary, we didn't get 24 hour pay. If you were having sex with your wife and that damned phone rang, you had to answer it.

I left. If a company wants to provide a warm body for support, then make them pay for it. There's no excuse for "well, we need this so you do it so you get to work it". Its better for the users to have someone in the building when they call, then somebody sitting in a theater who has to run out to the hallway and figure out why somebody can't get to their email through the phone connection.

Of course, I could be wrong.

John "Dark Paladin" Hummel

On-call equals working (4)

YIAAL (129110) | more than 13 years ago | (#255773)

If you're on-call, you're working. Wouldn't they fire you if you turned off your pager? If so, then you're working and should be paid.

on call requirements (5)

dzimmerm (131384) | more than 13 years ago | (#255775)

It depends on the state you live in. In ohio they basically said that if you do not like the company and its conditions, quit. That was the only way to get out of having to do what they asked as a condition of employment.

Other states probably have different attitudes. The place where I checked was the wage and hour division of the state government.

Good Luck,


It's a philosophical question (4)

JiveDonut (135491) | more than 13 years ago | (#255780)

If your pager goes off and there is no one there to respond, has it really gone off?

The answer of course, is "no".

Re:What I've seen. (1)

mikeee (137160) | more than 13 years ago | (#255785)

Seen similar systems, seemed to make everybody happy: 15 minute billing at a high hourly rate, 3 hour minimum.

This is straightforward and pretty fair.

What's legally workable may be something else entirely...

Re:Counterexample (2)

fleener (140714) | more than 13 years ago | (#255787)

Nurses are a semi-related example. They work set hours, but often if the hospital is not busy, some nurses are regularly put "on call." That means they do not come in to work, but are expected to be available (pageable) to come in if needed. They typically earn a third to a half of their normal hourly wage while on-call.

Here is one compensation plan: (5)

jcapell (144056) | more than 13 years ago | (#255790)

by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Agreement for the University of Michigan

Article XIV: On-Call Pay []


Each employee specifically designated as in an "on-call" status shall be paid twenty percent (20%) of the job rate for his/her classification for hours spent in that status. Employees, when designated for on-call status, are required to restrict their whereabouts to the extent that they are required to leave word at their home or with their supervisor where they can be reached and be in a position to return to work immediately when called. Upon return to work, such employees are not eligible for call back or reporting pay, as provided in Articles XII and XIII, nor for on-call pay while at work, but shall be paid their regular hourly rate, plus shift premium or special schedule premium, if applicable, or the overtime premium as set forth in Section A. of Article X, if applicable, for actual work performed. Time spent in an on-call status shall not be counted in calculating time worked for deter-mining when an overtime premium shall be paid.

Those cheap bastards..... (1)

kuzinov (155239) | more than 13 years ago | (#255794)

I've just returned to plumbing(I can make much more money fixing sinks versus computers), and my company's policy is $50 a week for being on call, plus $20 for every call I take on top of my overtime pay. Which doesn't seem like to bad a deal, we usually throw in a double time rate for anything after 11pm or on a major holiday.

Re:an observation and an advice (2)

proxima (165692) | more than 13 years ago | (#255803)

That is not an observation, that is an opinion. In case you're unfamiliar with our friend the scientific method, here would be an appropriate observation:

Observation: you are an hourly employee sometimes asked to be on-call.

Advice: try to eliminate on call hours, switch to decent salary position, or leave job.

Wife's a supply teacher, same problem (1)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 13 years ago | (#255804)

She get's calls up to 10pm or 6 am to go to a school. She doesn't get milage (even if she goes to more then one school during the day (full time teachers do)) The justification is that supply teachers are paid extra to handle the extra expense and whatnot. Don't think it's fair myself.

Could make them exempt salaried employees ... (4)

Naum (166466) | more than 13 years ago | (#255805)

... and that would solve the "having to pay overtime" problem - still, a schedule would have to be drawn up and "coverage" would to be assigned and rotated (for fairness). Of course, one Fortune 500 firm I worked at made all of their customer support staff exempt salaried employees to avoid paying overtime. But then OSHA (don't ask me why OSHA) stepped in and found that the positions did not qualify as "exempt" positions and forced the company to change the policy back ... The company sought to seek out the "whisteblower" who made the phone call - called individual people into the office of their superiors to quiz them on the identity of "Deep Throat"

Be awkward. (1)

shippo (166521) | more than 13 years ago | (#255806)

I had a job where I worked 9am to 5:30pm in 3rd line support. We'd have other members of staff manning the helpdesk until 8pm. Work was around 12 miles from home, and to get home I walked for 15 minutes and then caught the next bus home, typically arriving home at around 6:30pm.

One evening I had plans to go out at 8pm. Unfortunatly as soon as I arrived home I received a phone call from work asking me to help with a problem with a customer site which he was unable to resolve. For the next 3 hours I was on the phone to the customer, attempting to resolve their problem with little success, due to them neglecting to tell me important details. My evening was ruined, and I'd done an extra 3 hours work unpaid in my spare time.

From then on I became difficult to contact on an evening. I purposly avoided purchasing a cell phone. I'd ensure that I never returned home directly, or that my phone was constantly in use. I also refused to do weekend work without first being assurred compensation.

Later I was asked to carry a cell phone all weekend as cover for a customer site. The particular network that this phone connected to had terrible reception problems in the vacinity of my home (hills, cathedral 100 yards away) - hence my usual weekend routine was severely interrupted. Due to an adminstrative cock-up on behalf of someone else, the customer was given the incorrect number for the phone, and consequentially it didn't ring. I wasn't paid a penny for the inconvenience.

Re:On-call equals working (1)

Marty200 (170963) | more than 13 years ago | (#255807)

Thats easy to say, but if the employment laws say that they can pay you only when your called then your screwed. Unless your contract says otherwise they can probably do what they want. And if it's anything like where I work, union is a dirty word. MG

Some options... (1)

smack_attack (171144) | more than 13 years ago | (#255808)

Any examples of past experiences or how you dealt with such issues would be helpful, management is more than willing to work with us.

1) 3rd shift, if they want someone on call, they need to pay someone to be there.

2) Pay overtime for the time spent (from when you receive the page/call to when you resolve it, don't think it will go unnoticed if it takes 5 hours to help someone figure out how to FTP though).

3) Quit and become a programmer.


Re:Employers have been doing this for years... (5)

MrBogus (173033) | more than 13 years ago | (#255814)

Not to get into a flamewar, but when I worked for a hospital, it was part of the standard union agreement that carrying a pager translated into 25% normal pay. If you got called in, it was the normal hourly rate of course, plus OT.

I took this philsophy with me when I was doing independant SA work some years ago. Simply told the customer that pager duty would translate into 25% normal pay, and it never cost me a deal. Usually, they would dump the pager on some poor salaried sod.

on call == overtime (1)

superdk (184900) | more than 13 years ago | (#255822)

In my office the hourly folks who are asked to be on call are paid 3 hours regular time each day they are on call plus time and a half each hour they are in the office if they are called plus 5% shift differential if it is after 7:00pm.

That only applies if you weren't working the day you were on call. If you're on call only in the evenings, you're paid 3 hours overtime just for comming in, plus each additional hour you are in past one hour.

it's really not a bad deal over all

Nortel pager pay structure... (3)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 13 years ago | (#255823)

I had a friend who worked in the global product support division for a certain product within Nortel. These people were in much the same position as you, in that they had to carry a pager, and had to be able to respond to the page and be at work within a certan time period (1 hour, IIRC). Anyway, the way it worked there is that the employees were responsible for claiming how many pager shifts they worked. Then, they would be given a certain amount of additional salary for the shifts worked. If there was an actual page, however, then the employee was responsible for recording the number of hours worked on the issue, etc, etc, and they were paid accordingly. This way, the employees are properly compensated for the time carrying the pager *and* the work actually done should an issue arise.

Normally I'd agree (4)

RatFink100 (189508) | more than 13 years ago | (#255824)

Slashdot is not the place to get legal advice I'd agree with you there.

But it seems to me the poster is also trying to get a sense of what and how others in a similar position are paid. Presumably in order to be better informed when negotiating with his employers.

on call pay (3)

sabine (206851) | more than 13 years ago | (#255837)

This may be a dumb question, but wouldn't it be more fair of management to switch you to a salaried pay rate rather than an hourly? On-call time should be compensated somehow. sabine (first post?)

Re:On-call equals working (2)

ImpactSmash (217625) | more than 13 years ago | (#255855)

Absolutely! I work at a community hospital in Pittsburgh. Even though Programmer-Analysts were changed over to salary, we still receive On-Call pay every time we on the On Call Analyst. I would tell you how much, but I can't legally (collusion).

Another situation.... another view. (1)

Lester67 (218549) | more than 13 years ago | (#255857)

When the discussion of the "hourly" employees pulling on-call came up, it was made very clear that we would become salaried before that would occur. This was the only real solution to "tether" pay for the hourly emps. The salaried on-call people have a very (VERY) large pool of "oncall" pay that is divied up between the members of that oncall group. This means everyone gets compensated for tether time, and it also means they get cranky if someone comes in to the rotation and no one else went out. Of course, I also work in the equivilent of IT heaven...

Seek legal advice... (1)

kstumpf (218897) | more than 13 years ago | (#255859)

I would definitely contact a lawyer about it at some point, simply because the laws affecting your situation could depend on what state you work in.

Minimum Call Out Period (1)

icrooks (227741) | more than 13 years ago | (#255865)

Have a minimum call out period. Say 4 to 8 hours. You have to go in and it only takes 2 hours to get it done (including travel time) then you still get paid the minimum call period. Plus you get $100/week for carrying the pager. Or you become a salary employee and incorporate it into your pay. Only problem with this is your expected to work all time.

Employers have been doing this for years... (4)

Karma Sink (229208) | more than 13 years ago | (#255869)

Employers always want to take advantage of their labour. This is exactly the sort of thing that unionizing would be able to prevent, yet most geeks will scoff and roll their eyes if you even mention it.

Personally, I think the exploitation is worse since IT workers keep the machines running... so the mentality is set up that, since the machines need to run, the IT folks need to always be on call.

Re:Call a contract lawyer (2)

hillct (230132) | more than 13 years ago | (#255870)

I completely agree. Find someone who is qualified to answer this question in the legal sense. As for common business practice; Most companies I've ever worked for in an IS/IT capacity have dolled out 'pager pay' for on-call hours in addition to the full hourly rate paid in the event of a call. Typically the 'pager pay' rate was about 1/2 the hourly rate.

I am not a lawyer so don't take the below as fact unless you confirm it, but I believe it to be accurate

As for switching from hourly to salaried, you probably have more legal standing as an hourly employee, with regard to this issue, than if you were salaried (at least in a right-to-work state anyway).

-- CTH


Re:On-call equals working (3)

jesseraf (230545) | more than 13 years ago | (#255873)

While I agree that people should be paid during on-call hrs to some degree, I disagree with your statement. People do things all the time which directly affect how they work. If you get your hair-cut in a mohawk, you might get fired as well, but no one would ever claim that you should get paid to get a good hair-cut.
People don't get paid for stuff they do outside of the office but directly affect how they work. eg. no one gets paid for driving to work, dressing in uniform, etc.
Unfortunately the profession I'm familiar with that requires off-site on-call hrs is a medical doctor. They as far as I know (at least in Canada) do not get paid until they arrive at the hospital. What generally does happen is that they aren't on-call 24/7.
I think it's unfortunate, but I think there's very little you could do. As someone else said employers will always take advantage of the situation.

Salary (1)

WickedClean (230550) | more than 13 years ago | (#255874)

Your best bet would probably be to sell them your soul...i mean...put you on salary.

For Us, it works like this: (5)

big_groo (237634) | more than 13 years ago | (#255883)

Sunday through Thursday: 1hr/day for pager duty.
Friday to Saturday: 2hrs/day for pager duty.

Holidays: 4hr/day for pager duty.

What if you get called in? Well, then you get 4 hours pay MINIMUM for the call. If you can fix the prob in 2 hours, hit the beer store, if not, well too bad suckah!


In CA... (5)

gdyas (240438) | more than 13 years ago | (#255884)

First of all, ditto all comments on talking to a lawyer & not giving anything said here credence. That noted...

I recall a similar question recently being written in & answered in the LA Times's "Workplace" questions section. The employment professional who answered it said that the situation varies by state, but this is the legal situation in CA:

You are considered to be "working" and therefore must be paid if your movement or behavior is constrained in any meaningful way. That is, if your employer forces you to be at home to answer a call, he must pay you to stay at home because he's constraining your movement. Likewise, if you're on your lunch break yet not allowed to leave the property you must be paid for your lunch break. An example of behavior constraint is being allowed to do whatever you want but having to wear a shirt that advertises the company. You must be paid for being constrained. Thus, it comes down to individual cases for the court to decide if you are indeed meaningfully constrained.

Now, the courts have said that being forced to carry a beeper or cell is not a meaningful restraint on behavior, nor are reasonable localization constraints, where for example a person is told to be within an hour from work at all times should they get beeped. The intent as interpreted from the courts is that no constraint should make it difficult for you to live a normal daily life. The employer does NOT have to pay you for the time you're on-call, as long at they're not making you stay in a certain place or places to be on-call.

However when called in, even if it's just to answer a 5-minute question, they must pay you for the mandated minimum of 2 hours (this counteracts employers over-scheduling people on purpose then sending them off if it's not busy today without compensation). If they call you in they may also be liable to pay you from the moment they NOTIFY you to come in to the time you leave, as opposed to just the time you're there working on the problem.

Lastly, in CA no company can legally mandate overtime for hourly employees nor fire or punish you for not working overtime, though this law is largely flouted. It is always (legally at least) your choice to come in on short notice or not. If you do come in in addition to the standard 40-hr workweek, the requisite time and 1/2 must be paid.

Take turns AND get pay (1)

delorean (245987) | more than 13 years ago | (#255889)

Everyone shouldn't be on-call ALL the time.

And yes-- dammit-- you should be paid for your time spent close to shop on call

We take turns carrying a 24hr pager for seven days and get a little $250 check for those seven days. Which is pittance. It should be double and we're working on a plan to do that... heh heh

Otherwise-- hey, you're two hours way at a car show? "Whatdya want me to do about it right now?"

On-call (2)

Leliel (249770) | more than 13 years ago | (#255893)

I work for a utility company that has the same policy. Namely, you don't get paid for being on-call unless you actually have to come in. The only exceptions are a few particular classes of hourly wage non-exempt employees.

Your best bet, if your management is willing, might be to negotiate some sort of separate compensation for on-call employees. (i.e., you probably aren't going to be able to convice the Powers That Be to pay full-time, or even half-time wages for you to not be at work.)

Good luck to you,

You ARE a machine. (5)

perdida (251676) | more than 13 years ago | (#255896)

Personally, I think the exploitation is worse since IT workers keep the machines running... so the mentality is set up that, since the machines need to run, the IT folks need to always be on call.

That's right, friends, what's more important to your boss is the machine. Not you.

This is quite evident to most people who work on production lines doing highly technical work. The reason technically skilled people are so unique is that they can fit themselves into the little box of functionality determined by the technology's requirements. To the bosses, this isn't like the requirements of an artist, which include freedom of some sort.

The economy is crashing and many people find that they can locate more replaceable machine-servants than they could in the upswing.

So, in accordance to your lesser value, IT on call staff, your flexibility is gone, and your job perks are gone, and you see your job as the stark situation that it is-- slavery to the machine.

This is the kind of work that would benefit from independent collectives of people each knowing the same group of machines and being interchangably knowledgable about them. But companies like as few people as possible to have access to their system.

compensation for being on-call (1)

blooflame (252286) | more than 13 years ago | (#255898)

I'm sure someone else has posted similarly by now (judging from the lag bring this page up at work today!) but we were in a similar situation at one time. We negotiated on-call compensation in the following manner: $1/hour (Yes, that's one US dollar) for 5PM to 7AM on weeknights (Monday night through Friday morning). One-fourth of the base hourly rate for the job for weekend hours. Holidays to be paid 24 hours at the weekend rate (i.e. the holiday starts and ends at midnight). On most weeks, this means that I make 12*H+80 additional dollars when I'm on call. (H being my hourly rate, 12 being the 48 weekend hours that I get one fourth of my pay for, and 80 being hte number of hours at one dollar). We rotate being on-call to prevent the burden being in one person all the time, but this requires a bit of cross-training for all concerned to handle the most probable issues and doesn't work at every outfit.If you get called when it's not your turn, you get paid at the overtime rate for any time you have to put in.

My guess is (1)

Maskirovka (255712) | more than 13 years ago | (#255902)

that it is not legal to keep you on call without pay as you describe, though the law may vary from state to state. On the other hand if you're working for a fortune 100 it might not matter if it's legal or not; they make many of the laws.


Base plus hours worked (2)

tazmaster (306623) | more than 13 years ago | (#255918)

I've worked at places that provide a base for being on call, for example $50 to be on call this weekend. Then, if a call happens, it was time and a half for the actual hours worked. If they refuse to pay you a base for being on call I would contact a labor lawyer and get guidance. Legally, I don't think they can restrict your off work activities without compensating you in some way. If they make you stay in the area, then you are performing work for them and should be compensated.

He who dies with the most toys...... has one heck of a family battle over the will

Re:Counterexample (4)

MSBob (307239) | more than 13 years ago | (#255919)

I mean, what kind of place would we live in if police only got paid for the arrests they made?

A very safe one indeed. Albeit a very strict one too.

The pay structure I worked under (1)

tdye (308813) | more than 13 years ago | (#255920)

I worked for some time for a hospial in Austin, TX, and they are of course a 24-hr operation. Here's how we had coverage set up:
We had an 'operator' for 1st, 2nd and 3rd shift, 24/7. 2nd, 3rd, and weekend people were generally not very skilled, but the regular tech people trained them over time to be able to deal with most basic situations. So they answered the phones, and called us when they needed to.

All the techs were on a rotating schedule where they carried the pager 24/7 for one week out of every five. Administrators were one week out of 4, and there were only 2 WAn people, so they traded off. There was a strict escalation from operator to tech support to admin to WAN, and no deviation was allowed.

Payment was $2/hr from 7PM to 7AM, and all day Sat. and Sun. That comes to $216 for the week you wore the pager. If you got paged and called in, you got paid an automatic hour of overtime (plus the 2nd or 3rd shift pay differential, which was 7% or 10% respectively). If you went into the office, you got 2 hours of automatic overtime. Any time over 2 hours was at 1.5* normal, plus the differential. Getting a call at 2AM on Saturday night added an extra 25% to the pay rate, 10% 3rd shift and 15% weekend diff.

Now, since it was a hospital, they already had a policy in place to compensate people for working nights and weekends. YMMV, but for us the basic structure worked well: $2/hr for being on call regardless of what happens, 1hr overtime for using the phone, a minimum 2hrs for going in.

Sometimes I could make an extra $500 in a week... I started picking up other people's pager time when they wanted out of it.

Eventually the calls dwindled as we got the operators trained and all the old crappy PC's replaced, but occasionally the paper would jam in the ER admissions printer and I'd make a quick $60 to go re-align it for them...

Good luck getting the compensation.

an observation and an advice (2)

Tuidjy (321055) | more than 13 years ago | (#255926)

Observation: You should not be an hourly employee Advice: You need a lawyer, not a bunch of /.ers

Reward uptime, not downtime. (5)

w2gy (324957) | more than 13 years ago | (#255928)

I used to work for a large ISP in the UK that was spending a lot of time on putting people on 24/7 due to unreliable kit from manufacturers. The Director of Ops felt we might be "fixing" kit to make the most out of call-out pay (ISP being the lowest paying sector possible), so decided to swap the tables around.

For one of our customers, we had to be tested by an independent company to match to an SLA in terms of dial-up performance, speed of access, etc. so the scheme worked like this:

A pot of cash was put up - say $6,000/month. If we did far better than the SLA stated, the whole lot was up for grabs. If we got just inside, $4,000 was up for grabs. If we missed the SLA, no money was available.

What would then happen is that for every day a person did remote call-out they got a point. If they drove into work to fix something, they got an extra point. If they did a whole day at the weekend, they got an extra 2 points, etc.

At the end of the month, all the points were added up, and the amount available from the performance we had acheived was divided by this number of points, giving money per point. This was then awarded accordingly. I left after making about $10,000 on this scheme over 6 months, but I know one guy who still works there doubled his salary on this.

What's more, the network is in better shape too, as it has to meet high standards for the money to be paid out. Quite effective really.

underpaidinitis (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 13 years ago | (#255940)

i work for a fortune 100 company as well... all of our on-call support dudes are contractors, with provisions in their contracts i'm sure for weird hours... your problem is that you're an hourly employee... rather than fight the byzantine management vacilitude i'm sure you are to face by bringing this up (mr. division head to his middle-management underlings: "what did you say? are you telling me IT is unionizing?!" ;-P ) you should adapt a "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" approach and just become a contractor ;-)

incidentally, whoever posted this question unintentionally invented a description for your particular ailment in the title of the post: "underpaidinitis" ;-)
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