I have joined a new NHS department where it is deemed standard to be given annual leave and then to be rotared for out of hours shifts and residential on calls over this period. Managers then tell the employee that they will need to get these shifts covered. So staff are regularly rotared on-calls mid-annual leave or weekend shifts that they then have to sort themselves.

I have found that residential on-calls class as working time even when not actively working but I can't seem to find anything regarding the legalities of who's responsibility organising cover belongs to. My union have said that it is "unacceptable" but doesn't say what regulations it is unacceptable by and they aren't the most reliable of sources.

Could anyone shed some light on the issue? Thanks

  • 2
    This will be covered by a combination of your contract and any collective agreements which are in place. The right people to be talking to is your union. Nov 13, 2021 at 20:10
  • Hi both thanks for your comments. I haven’t spoken directly with union yet, it was in an email to reps saying what to do was to write a letter to the head of the department. I just like to do my own research first but I will talk to my industrial relations rep and see what they have to say personally. Thanks Joe and Philip :) Nov 13, 2021 at 22:22

2 Answers 2


There's no locale stated, but normally responsibility lies at a different level from the actual employee. Whether that be the union, the employer, or both is dependent on locale, but unless it's in your contract somewhere that you're responsible for it then it's not you.

If you have a union, ask them. That's theoretically part of what they exist for.

  • 3
    mentioning for the NHS and expecting us to know what this means strongly implies this is the National Health Service of the UK.
    – Benjamin
    Nov 14, 2021 at 1:36
  • 1
    @Kilisi There are plenty of NHSs around, but only a UK poster is likely to take it for granted that they can write "NHS" and have readers know what they mean. Nov 14, 2021 at 4:54
  • Hi all yes sorry it is the national health service in the UK! I forget it’s not a widely known thing. Nov 14, 2021 at 9:30
  • Thanks Kilisi I will get in touch with them and see what they have to say. Nov 14, 2021 at 9:31

It’s up to HR to find or not find a replacement for you. It may be that if you want to take some time off, you would need permission and you will only get it if you find a replacement, but once your holiday request has been accepted, it is up to HR.

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