24x7 on-call rates

Paul Makepeace paulm at paulm.com
Thu Oct 2 12:28:52 BST 2008

On Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 10:57 AM, Peter Haworth
<pmh at edison.ioppublishing.com> wrote:
> On Tue, 30 Sep 2008 18:36:20 +0100, Paul Makepeace wrote:
>> On Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 6:01 PM, Peter Haworth
>> <pmh at edison.ioppublishing.com> wrote:
>> > My employers are trying to come up with a clear remuneration
>> > scheme for the 24x7 team, after it was accidentally shrouded in
>> > mystery for a number of years, and the team members are looking
>> > for comparable schemes at other companies to make sure that what
>> > we're offered is fair. So, what are people who provide 24 hour on-
>> > call support being paid for it, or what do you think is fair?
>> (Presumably you don't mean 24h at a stretch by a single person as
>> that'd be violating the EU working time directive, AIUI.)
> Actually, it's a whole 24x7h at a stretch on call. This rotates
> through the team members, so we're on call one week in 9 at the
> moment. We've all had to sign an exemption to the working hours
> directive for the weeks that we're on call, but this is only to cover
> the maximum hours worked per week. I'm not familiar enough with the
> legislation to say what other limits we might also be breaking.

It's worth reading up on the WTD just for reference I'd say. While the
UK can opt-out, an agreement on a revised WTD was agreed recently and
there's a possibility employers won't be able to opt-out as soon as
this year.


and, http://www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/employment/employment-legislation/employment-guidance/page28978.html


On 3 October 2000 the European Court of Justice gave judgement in a
case concerning the status of 'on-call' time (1).The judgement related
to doctors employed in primary health care teams although a similar
approach has been taken by the courts in other areas.  It indicated
that 'on-call' time would be working time when a worker is required to
be at his place of work.  When a worker is permitted to be away from
the workplace when 'on-call' and accordingly free to pursue leisure
activities, on-call time is not 'working time'


So what if the person can be at home? In our case it's deemed we're
effectively at work because we're not in a position realistically to
"pursue leisure activities" when we have a five minute acknowledgment
SLA. As such after a week's oncall we're legally obliged to take the
Monday off.

> I should also make it clear what we're being called out on. This is
> automated alerts that our services are failing/about to fail, rather
> than helping actual users with problems out of hours.

(I'm not sure how much difference that would make, except that you can
presumably solve the former naked. The issue comes mostly down to
whether you can reasonably do what you want, i.e. time off. If you
have to respond in <5mins you're not really at leisure.)

>> Offer them +20% for doing a night shift and see how that goes down.
>> (Wait, 'goes down' maybe not the ideal phrase...)
> Although what other people have said has been very useful, for which I
> thank you all, this is the only figure which has been mentioned. I'd
> appreciate any other numbers people have seen or would like to see.
> For comparison, we're currently being offered a flat GBP2500/year for
> being a team member, with time in lieu available for actually being
> called out. Demands for per-call payment don't seem likely be received
> well from what we've heard so far, but overwhelming evidence of such
> practice in other organisations might help our cause.

I'd be wary of a per-incident charge. I can see all sorts of
suboptimal cost saving strategies arising from it that do not benefit
the company or the employee*. I think a flat rate or overtime type of
arrangement is much better.

* specifically: reduced monitoring = fewer pages; more strictures on
escalating issues to oncall = borderline issues that may be hiding
real issues aren't reported; no incidents = no pay, even though you
might be under a tight response SLA; etc


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