I'm 5 months into my first internship as a software developer, and I am satisfied at my current place. The only problem I have is what I consider a lack of professionalism: two coworkers message and phone me on my personal phone outside working hours.

Now, I'm more than happy to try to be useful also outside working hours (They usually call me just to give me or to get from me some job related information, so it's really not a problem).

The real problem happened because my boss called me when I was at a place in which no service was available (Couldn't receive or make calls, no internet). I saw the call only when I left the place, at 11 P.M., I received it at 9.20 P.M.

I decided to not call back since I thought it was too late. The next day, when I arrived at the office, the boss called me and complained about the fact that he couldn't reach me and that he had to tell me important information that would have affected the next working day.

My question is: Is it acceptable for him to call me on my personal phone outside of working hours?

Other information that might be useful:

  • A similar situation happened with an other coworker, and he didn't complain about it.
  • Everyone but me in the company has a work phone, but consider that getting one would have not helped in that specific situation.
  • I didn't end up wasting a working day, I had stuff to do anyway.

EDIT: There is nothing on my contract that says that I have to be reachable 24/7.

SECOND EDIT: the information he gave me was about being in another place instead of the office (Which is where I do my work 95% of the time). That involved waking up way earlier than usual, therefore it was important to get the information before I went to sleep.

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  • @IDrinkandIKnowThings while I agree that this could be a duplicate, I honestly think his boss deemed this critical information for him to receive where as the dup is actually mundane things like moving furniture Dec 15, 2017 at 15:15
  • What I don’t understand is if it was so important then they should have left a voice mail. In this case your boss needed to get ahold of you, presumably because it was important, which is more than reasonable. However, then being upset about not reaching you is unreasonable, if it was that important they should have called before 9PM (more like 5-6PM)
    – Donald
    Dec 16, 2017 at 22:51
  • Did he leave voicemail? Dec 19, 2017 at 3:39

6 Answers 6


Here is the way I would approach this:

It depends a little bit on the expectation. I am expected to always have my phone on me. If I am out of service, I am expected to follow up when I regain service HOWEVER this was clearly communicated to me and I get paid if I have to answer my phone at overtime rates.

Seeing as this is not a work phone and there doesn't appear to be an expectation that you will be reachable 24/7 (based on the information in the question), I think you should approach your boss and say something similar to this:

Im sorry I wasn't available to take your call (on XX DATE). I am unclear on what my expectation is. Am I supposed to be reachable 24/7? I have been taking work related calls on my personal time as a favor to my colleagues, but I was not under the impression this was mandatory. If it is mandatory that I am always reachable, I would like to request a company phone and compensation for the work I put in out of the office. If it is not mandatory, next time please just send me a text that says "call me I have some important information regarding your workload tomorrow" and I will call you back whenever I can.

obviously depending on your contract this may not be an option. If you are a salary worker and it specifically says in your contract need to answer these types of calls, then my answer won't help you.

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    +1: this opens up the option to be 24/7 reachable but clearly sets fair terms for it a priori, and otherwise makes it clear it's not tolerable. Dec 15, 2017 at 15:02
  • I like this answer, but I'd also suggest that the boss just leave a voice mail if the information is particularly urgent.
    – Bobson
    Dec 15, 2017 at 15:26
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    I was thinking more "leave a voice mail (or text) with the information I need" rather than "leave a voice mail (or text) saying to call me".
    – Bobson
    Dec 15, 2017 at 15:47
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    @senschen Do people still listen to voice mails? I certainly don't (if it's important, I would expect people to try to reach me in other ways). I agree that sending the actual information in a text/email would have been better, but maybe the boss wanted to make sure that OP received the information, so they asked to be called back to be certain. (I don't think that that is OK in any way given the situation, but it could explain why they didn't leave a voice mail / text)
    – tim
    Dec 15, 2017 at 16:45
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    @tim I do. Especially if I can see that the missed call and voicemail are from my boss. Personally I get calls when things are important, and texts when they're not. For something really important (not sure if OP's situation qualifies or not, probably does?) both isn't out of line, especially if I (or whoever I'm calling) may be in a position to read a text but not answer the phone or get voicemail. Ie, a call with or without voicemail, and then a follow up text containing the relevant important information and possibly a request for a callback.
    – senschen
    Dec 15, 2017 at 17:00

My question is: is it acceptable for him to pretend to be able to call me on my personal phone outside of working hours?

No, this is not acceptable behavior based on my experience. There are emergency situations that fit outside the norm, but typically for trivial/non emergency stuff the expectation should be that you handle business during business hours.

If you discuss this with your boss, and its deemed necessary for you to be reachable 24/7, you may want to ask for more money, a company phone, or maybe even both.

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    Or, more money and a company phone, always pitch high :) Dec 15, 2017 at 15:20

SMS is an underrated form of business communication. Your boss could easily have texted to say "please be at office X at Y o'clock tomorrow" (whether that's a reasonable request or not is another question). They could also have texted to ask you to check your work emails ASAP, assuming you're known to have mobile access to them. A voicemail containing useful information would also work in many cases.

Your boss didn't think it through very well (demonstrated by the fact that they didn't take a course of action that would help both of you) which may affect how you respond.


This is extremely bad behavior, but as an intern there isn't a lot you can do about this. The part that makes it "extremely" bad is that the boss blames you for his inability to type an email when he couldn't call you.

How you go on depends on the follow up you planned after the internship - are you looking for a job at the same company, a job with the same boss, a good reference, or are you just checking a box so you can graduate? Also, how much longer is the internship going to last - a couple weeks, or an entire year?

If you aim to get a full time job with a different boss at the same company, try to have a short meeting with the future boss where you ask him for advice on the situation ("Hey Mr X, I need your advice on something work related. Could you let me know when you can spare 15 minutes? Thanks!"). If you plan to work for the current boss for several additional months, ask him for clarification regarding your expected availability and compensation. If you're just there for a few more weeks, stick it out and block the numbers of your work buddies from 1900-0800.


The next day, when I arrived at the office, the boss called me and complained about the fact that he couldn't reach me and that he had to tell me important information that would have affected the next working day.

You see it as complaining and you and

I didn't end up wasting a working day, I had stuff to do anyway.

First, he did he complain or did he reprimand? Second, why the emotional need from your boss? Is he responsible for ensuring you have work, and the works priority? I have a hunch as an intern, he is very responsible for your tasks and actions.

Request a meeting and figure out what the issue at hand really is. What made him so emotional that he needed to reach you at 9pm? If it is ensuring next weeks work, maybe have a Friday review and planning session? As an intern, feel free to bring up outside work (school) that prevents much interaction after-hours except for emergencies. As an intern, I doubt a company phone will be made available.


I would not give anyone my personal phone number out for this situation, period.

For professionals who are expected to be available outside of work hours, either on a shift basis or a 24/7 basis, there should be "on-call" compensation for just being available to be contacted, as well as overtime-style pay if any work has to be done.

There are, literally, thousands of free email account sources. Set one up exclusively for work-related access and share that. Tell your co-workers/bosses

I will check this two hours after work ends, and before I go to bed at (10 PM? 9 PM? 11 PM?). Please only use this for emergency purposes, not for general work knowledge. That kind of information can be shared with me at work. Please do not leave a "call me" email, but include actual information in any emails you send.

Even as an intern, they don't own you, body and soul, 24/7. Work is work and your personal life is your personal life. If the need to be able to reach you for emergency info that arises after work ends and must get to you before the next work day begins, then you've provided them with a way to do that. Anything beyond that is an uncalled-for intrusion into time they are not compensating you for.

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