Have you ever worked on-call?

(16 Posts)
DevonCiderPunk Thu 28-Nov-13 21:45:04

My newish job involves a lot of on-call work out of hours. It's a start-up so I am giving a lot of goodwill as I love the place and so want it to work. But just wondered what protocol other organisations have for on-call? Wherever I've worked before it's been alternating weeks at least. Just want to get an idea of what's reasonable so that I can steer towards it...

elliegoulding Thu 28-Nov-13 21:54:47

I have, it was hideous. I got paid £12.50 per night to cover a huge county's worth of social care, so mainly staff sickness and complaints, it makes me cross just thinking about it .... did it for 3 years and if I hear a ringtone rhe same as the one on the on call phone my heart races! you did ask lol wink

elliegoulding Thu 28-Nov-13 21:55:39

eta - we did one night per week and 1 weekend in 4

mer74 Thu 28-Nov-13 22:02:58

i have. it was generally 1 weekend in every 5 or 6, rostered well in advance (agreed at monthly/two monthly meetings) and lots of flexibility about switching around weekends (person officially rostered still had actual accountability if, say, the switch fell through).

for this there was a set rate for being on call, fixed (fairly low but to compensate for not being able to drink, and stay within 30 minutes of the office, etc). and TOIL if we were called out (to be used mostly at our convenience, although needed line manager approval).

it worked fairly well, although it was mandatory i never felt taken advantage of, since there was so much flexibility/fair compensation/management of staff built in.

(if that wasn't true it would have been a dealbreaker)

also, the company provided all the essentials for it too e.g. on-call mobile for us (we had a team mobile and a backup one that had a locker with all of us having keys for them, originally a couple of beepers if you remember them). so again, fairly straightforward.

DevonCiderPunk Thu 28-Nov-13 22:09:28

So the key incentives/rewards seem to be

- alternating shifts
- extra pay for call-outs

I'm finding that the calls themselves aren't the worst bit... It's arranging life so that you're always in signal range/near wifi that's intrusive (as you might gather I live in Devon and large swathes of it are out of signal area, so days out are stuffed)

EBearhug Fri 29-Nov-13 22:31:56

I think it massively depends on your industry and what "on-call" involves. I work in IT, and on-call usually means being able to log on from home, though at worst, I could have to drive to a datacentre. It's not the same as being a field engineer (who will nearly always have to visit site) or a doctor or whatever, where people's lives could hang in the balance (though people do get remarkably upset about broken servers during the month-end bill run...) So I think the "burden" of on-call can vary quite a lot.

Going by systems I've worked with past and present, there seem to be different ways of paying.
1) An overall on-call payment which is quite high, but that's it.
2) My current system is the department gets an on-call pot for the year, and it's divided by the number of people who do on-call (more people means less money, but the rota comes round less frequently.) Then if you have to work and it's more than an hour, you can get TOIL (or rarely, with manager's agreement, overtime.)
3) You get an allowance for each on-call shift you do, then you get a small payment for each time you're called out, plus you can get overtime for the amount of time you work.

I prefer the last system - always easier to get swaps, if someone is saving up for something, and it seems fairer - you get paid for what you do. But whatever system it is - it does restrict your life, having to be within reach of a phone signal, being able to log on, being within an hour's drive of the datacentre (don't actually live within an hour's drive of one of them, but it's never been an issue to date,) not being able to drink (not that I do.) But that's what the on-call payment is for. Not that any money really makes up for being woken at 3am, and you still need a break from that possibility, weeks where there isn't a chance of you being called out.

And at least I haven't copped Christmas this year.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 29-Nov-13 23:09:50

I have always worked on call in a clinical field. Our on-call is part of our salary package (so no extra payments) . My industry is outside of the working time directive, but if your industry is covered by it there are rest periods that need to be adhered to.
We work one night Monday to Thursday, then one Friday in four and one Saturday 12.30pm through to Monday am in four ( you do not get Friday and weekend together). After a weekend you always get a half day.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lougle Fri 29-Nov-13 23:30:14

I did it in the NHS (theatres):

-Normally 2 nights on call in the week then 1 in 3 weekends.
-Had to be within 20-30 minutes of the hospital
-Retainer for nights on call/weekends on call
-1.5x or 2x hourly rate depending on when called in
-If we were called in and returned home after 4am, no work the following day but still paid. If called in and returned home before 4am, work as usual, but allowed to go home early if close to the wire and all was quiet.

beansbeansgoodfortheheart Fri 29-Nov-13 23:30:35

One weekend in three or four but with flexibility to swap shifts etc

Extra £700 a year to be on rota

Approx £65 a week when on call

Don't get many calls but when on call are expected to be within range and sober wink

The more senior you are though the more 'on call' 24/7 you are expected to be though

DevonCiderPunk Sat 30-Nov-13 01:04:24

Thanks all, this is very informative.

Emma54321 Sat 30-Nov-13 07:42:06


I do it (NHS) but payments are rubbish now really these days. We get £18 a night to be on standby and then paid at time and a half for any time we spend out 'on-call'.
I find on-call very hard these days...I must be getting old!

YuleNeverKnow Sat 30-Nov-13 13:11:39

I would ask about the rota - how many people take part? Which hours have to be covered? What about weekends? How often do people actually get called out, and at what hours?

What will you do on call? What kind of pressure will you be under once you are called out? How quickly do you have to respond? Do you have to see something through or just undertake damage limitation for someone else to follow up during normal working hours? What will you actually have to do - eg routine stuff or exceptional stuff that poses a challenge? Do people on call ever have to call on other people, eg colleagues, or externals? What will happen if you "fail"?

I used to work in IT. Callouts meant something exceptional had happened. We had a 2-hour window to fix things, ie be alerted by the operators, log on (in the days of a telnet connection over a dial-up modem - the sound of a modem still makes my heart sink!), drive to the office if the connection failed (it usually did), diagnose the problem, devise a solution, apply the solution, leave things in a safe state, write it up for the day workers so they knew what went wrong, what was done, what needed followed up. Two hours meant a lot of sweating. On one memorable occasion when everything went wrong that could go wrong, a business manager gave me earache at 6am telling me how annoyed he was that he'd asked people to come in to do overtime from 7am and because the system was down he'd be paying them extra to twiddle their thumbs. Given that I'd worked all night my sympathy meter was barely registering ...

We ended up working 1 week in 3. That was 6pm Monday until 9am the following Mon. Originally paid per callout but company chnaged to paying an annual premium.

Liberton Tue 17-Dec-13 14:32:44

I loved my previous job....Then I had a new line manager....I was always on call (always!!!!), no pay whatsoever ("it's part of your job description"), she was a lazy co# lol. I asked other colleagues in a similar role but different companies and they all had different arrangements... I had 2 better job offers and left after a month....Same role, no on call, more pay! Lol

Shaky Tue 17-Dec-13 14:37:43

I'm the same as Emma

I get £18 to be on call and then time and a half if called out.

I'm on call at least one night a week.

peggyundercrackers Tue 17-Dec-13 14:46:31

i do it in my current job in IT. the std on call rota is 1 week in 4 for which you get £250pm so £3kPA. if you do 2 weeks in 4 this payment goes to £500 - no one gets asked to do 3 in 4 or 4 in 4 and if you do need to do it for a short period of time you can claim the additional payments as overtime. if you get called out you get paid overtime for your hours, think it goes from 0-15 mins is free/dont get paid for, 15-60 you get an hour for 60min-120mins you get two hours but after 4 hours you dont get any more, thats as good as it gets. rota is set out a year in advance so i know who is on call up to dec 2014.

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