I have a work phone for communicating with clients that was provided by my company, which I often forget to switch off after the work day is done. Clients also have this number.

A client has just called me, well outside of office hours on my first day of annual leave, with an issue. Being put on the spot and not wanting to be rude to a client, I remoted into the machine in question from my personal desktop at home to resolve the issue which in the end was fairly trivial. I'm kind of ticked off that a client interrupted my personal time when I specifically tell anyone who has my work number the hours that I will be in the office, and to call then. Am I being unreasonable? Am I asking for this by not switching my work phone off?

  • I answered it because we're a very small company and I'm currently the only IT guy there. We can't afford to lose clients. My boss has said nothing about me being obliged to answer my phone outside of office hours.
    – Sendaii
    Jul 5, 2016 at 19:44
  • @Sendaii Do you have a voice mail message on your phone which informs callers of the hours? If a client calls outside of the hours they will be reminded of when to call back.
    – Brandin
    Jul 6, 2016 at 7:02

4 Answers 4


You need to understand that people will use whatever leeway you choose to give them. Leaving your phone on is giving that leeway. It's not personal, it's business. You pretty much need to enforce whatever boundaries you set but don't expect anyone else to enforce them for you.

Also, you could have just sent the guy to voice mail and then called him back later to tell him that you're actually on leave.


You should not be upset that a customer called you.

YOU need to manage your communications.

When you're on vacation, change your voicemail greeting to explain that :

  • You are on vacation. You are not responding to messages until you return date.
  • When your return date is.
  • An alternative contact at your organization for immediate issues.

I recommend leaving the alternative contact number twice, as people may be surprised and need a moment to gather pen/paper to write it down.

And, as @DanPichelman reminds us: Shut the phone off until you get back to the office.

  • 2
    ... and then shut off the phone for the duration of the vacation Jul 5, 2016 at 19:36

Generally before I leave for vacation I make sure there is someone covering my work. This often means several different people are covering different tasks I have. I send out an email to my regular customers letting them know I will be on vacation, and who they should contact. Then if I still get a call I let them know to contact who ever is covering for me as I do not have access to a computer to help them right now, even if I am sitting at my computer with nothing else to do. Then if there is a problem that my coverage can not handle, and the customer can not wait, the coverage person can contact me. Then I will get into solving the issue if needed, or direct them to escalate the issue properly if it is more effort than I can or am willing to give during my vacation.


Ultimately the answer to that question is between you and your employer but if they do expect you to be available, even when you are on leave, then they should be prepared to provide appropriate compensation. My last job I was theoretically on call 24x7x365 as all our clients had my cell phone number and we had a small support team that didn't have 24x7 coverage. I didn't really mind that because in the 4 years I was there I got a grand total of 1 call outside of business hours. For the last 2 years my work phone was even my only phone so turning it off wasn't really an option.

As far as your specific example it depends a little bit. Assuming they didn't know you were on leave and your company has some policy/process in place for handling those types of after hours issues I simply would have told them you were on leave and referred them to the appropriate avenue for getting assistance with their issue. This is the best thing to do for you, even when you aren't on vacation, and for your company too. Clients can get used to things when you make exceptions and don't follow process and begin to expect that as the normal process. Suddenly a simple one time quick fix after hours is an expectation of 24x7 support and they won't want to pay extra for that either.

Also check your phone's settings for a quiet hours setting to have it automatically take care of things for you so you don't have to remember to turn it off.

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