I work for a small IT consulting company that is privately owned. I am a software developer on a team of 7 people. Right now I am working typically between 9am and 6pm, just like everyone else on my team. Recently my manager has come up with the idea of having a rotating on call schedule comprised of 3 to 4 of us on the team, including me. Being a small company we don’t have a dedicated support staff, or help desk. Recently we have taken on the role of hosting and administering some applications as well, just not development. Essentially my manager wants us to be available to take calls and work to resolve issues reported by clients.
I completely understand the view of my company that they need extended support beyond 9am and 6pm. Clients want to feel that their systems are being taken care of and someone is there to fix it when something goes wrong. I understand that, and I wouldn’t be complaining if it was as simple as I need to have my phone and take calls. What to me is unreasonable is the expectation that we are going to be able to address the issue on the spot. Essentially that is restricting what I can do on my off time, because I would have to have quick access to a computer, internet, and VPN. I couldn’t take a weekend trip, or really stray far from my house during my on call period. I am usually very active during the Spring, Summer, and early fall months, going on short weekend trips, etc because its cold as hell in Ohio during the Winter. What they are really asking is not being on call, they are asking to be on standby.
I did some research and the general consensus seems to be it’s a big gray area but if you are just on call and the only inconvenience is you have to have your cell phone and answer calls then you are not entitled to compensation. However if there are restrictions put against you in your free time you could be entitled to compensation. Since we are not being compensating to be on standby I’m wondering if I have a ground to say no? If you are an hourly employee , such as I am, in my opinion your free time is your free time to do whatever you want, of course being legal.
In the past if I have been available I’ve always logged in and helped do whatever needed to be done. I used to work late nights, weekends, almost anything they asked. Then they began to take advantage of that, and basically doubled up my work knowing I would do it, instead of hiring additional resources. It went on until I developed an anxiety disordered and told them I couldn’t do it any longer, then they finally hired two new employees. I am partly afraid to be taken advantage of again because our company is cheap.
FYI, I am an hourly employee and have been with the company for 4.5 years, I’m actually the most senior person on my team To summarize my questions are:
- Can an hourly employee be forced to be on standby without compensation?
- If asked to be on standby does the company have to provide compensation?
- Can I refuse to do the work from home, and instead drive into the office to work, making the company have to compensate for travel, and whatever time is spent at the office?