24x7 on-call rates

Paul Weaver paul.weaver at bbc.co.uk
Wed Oct 1 18:49:34 BST 2008

> On Wed, Oct 01, 2008 at 11:53:07AM +0100, Dominic Thoreau wrote:
> > There's also a need for an allowance for simply being on call
> You need an allowance for being on call, a per-incident 
> payment, and a per-hour payment.  If you have to work several 
> hours, you need to get the next day off.  IIRC at BBC IS the 
> on-call engineer would get the next day off "for free" - ie, 
> it didn't come out of his holiday allowance - if he was 
> working for four or more hours the previous night. This isn't 
> because of any EU bullshit, it's just common sense - he 
> wouldn't be in any fit state to do a day's work anyway.

Indeed, although I guess it depends on your job. I'll often make more 
effort to come in early the next day if there have been issues, but 
then my management aren't as petty as to require me in at 9AM every 

There is a world of difference between "phone me and I'll probably be 
able to help", and a guarentee you're available (and therefore avoid 
travelling on the tube, driving through tunnels, or wandering into 
new areas which may lack a phone signal)

If you need to be on call 100% of the time, you need to be based at 
work. Even then, how do they cope while you're on a meal break?

The only time I haven't been "on call" in the last 2 years was the 
4 weeks of my wedding and honeymoon -- I left my phone at work. 
I've been called 5 times in that time.

It's best-endeavours, if I don't want to be contacted I'll turn my 
phone off, if I am too "merry" to do anything useful I'll explain 
that (although I''ve rarely been that bad since uni days). There's 3 
of us available in any case, and if we can't be reached it's not like 
we run air traffic control or hospitals -- it's only television.

I treat being on call in the same way as a mailing list -- most of the 
time I'll help out if I can, but there's no guarentee.

When the system was first brought in, we had the following
1) On call engineers contact duty manager requesting assitance
2) Duty manager contacts our line manager for permission to ring us
3) Our line manager then tells the engineer who to call

The duty manager confirms it's a real problem that can't wait, going
our line manager means if it's not important, he's affected too, and
complain louder. 

The only person to talk to me is the engineer though, who is (usually)
of pinging a machine. 

> It's also worth considering providing the necessary hardware 
> and interweb connection.  That way, the engineer can still 
> work (using the on-call laptop and 3G modem) even if his ADSL 
> has died, and you don't have the problem of a potentially 
> untrusted network (the engineer's, with his housemates on it) 
> connecting to your internal network.

Our remote access system established a RSA id controlled VPN from the
laptop to the intranet, and firewalls itself off before doing anything.
It's a right 
pain in the ass, I run linux at work, but if I need to do remote access
I have to 
suffer windows.

Paul Weaver	
Systems Development Engineer
News Production Facilities, BBC News

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