We are currently delivering an in house product with an in house technical team. I am acting as the product manager for it.

This weekend, the product went down for a customer. Monday arrived and my CEO is upset, since nothing was done over the weekend. The main problem is that nobody wants to work weekends, and often completely switch off, i.e. not contactable by SMS. I am having a hard time getting the rest of the team to commit to being on stand by, but at the same time, I am not sure how I can break this to my boss.

We are a UK based small start-up with 4 employees.

a) How can I get the rest of the team to commit to this, and

b) does my boss have the right to expect them to be on unpaid standby?

  • 158
    Did the CEO only realize on Monday that nothing happened during the weekend? Because I would expect the CEO of a startup to be included in the list of contacts, so if the customer was annoyed by this crash the CEO should be the one getting the phone calls.
    – Erik
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 12:32
  • 148
    Do the 4 people own equity? If not, why would they do unpaid work, when they are normally paid for work?
    – nvoigt
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 13:57
  • 38
    Are there established SLAs for the product? Has anyone set formal expectations of uptime, outage response requirements, etc.? Is there monitoring/alerting in place to inform people that there even is an outage?
    – alroc
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 13:59
  • 23
    If this is an "in house product" how could it "down for a customer"? For me in-house products are used in house and not by customers. Maybe you mean something different for "in house" than I do? Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 16:20
  • 94
    “How can I get the rest of the team to commit to this“ — to working weekends? Traditionally, you pay them to do so. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 18:24

13 Answers 13


So far, the answers focus on what it would take to offer 24/7 support, but the first question that you should be asking is:

What kind of service level are we willing to promise?

As indicated by the other answers, it takes serious resources to offer 24/7 support. Perhaps you can bully your staff into doing this free of charge, but that will likely not be a feasible solution in the long run. Therefore, it is important to consider the following questions:

  1. Do we offer the client ongoing support after the initial setup?
  2. Do we offer support when they need it, or only provide scheduled maintenance?
  3. Do we offer support within 1 or 2 working days?
  4. Do we offer support within 24 hours?
  5. Do we offer instant support 24/7?
  6. Does support mean fixing things, or just answering queries by phone?

Based on how you answer these questions, it should be clear which resources are required for this. And whether the cost of those resources would make it attractive to offer the corresponding level of support.

Real life example

I have worked in a small team before. Here is what our situation looked like.


  • Promise to partners (customers): 24/7 support
  • Most of the time clients messed things up that resulted in questions, not in actual software breakdown
  • There were about 7 people who could answer the phone, but only my colleague and I could actually fix the software


  • My colleague and I were not willing to be available 24/7 (perhaps I would have been for 25% extra standby-pay and 125% extra emergency-work-pay, but this was not discussed)


  • My bosses (and others who were willing, partially from different time zones) took on support calls outside office hours, resolving most simple issues by phone, or at least indicating that the issue would be picked up first thing Monday morning
  • For part of our uptime we depended on our suppliers; we made them promise 24/7 support towards us; we also enabled them to fix the most common problems (e.g. reboot the system).
  • If the software would break, I would look into that first thing next working day
  • During critical weekends, I promised my boss to check my text messages every 12 hours, allowing me to enjoy my weekend reasonably well. Note that critical weekends were by definition infrequent, and that I was therefore willing to do this free of charge. If I worked a lot, I would typically go home early on Monday after things had cooled down. (Or Friday before things were expected to heat up.)
  • Not sure if it is relevant for this question, but to show the full picture: During some vacations, I promised my colleagues to check my text messages every 48 hours to make sure they would not get stuck on something trivial for days. Note that my colleagues would only take advantage of this in extreme cases.
  • 7
    "12 hours seems a shockingly long time" that's an SLA - 12 hours worst case seems reasonable to me. What if you're out of signal while hiking, or on a boat, etc.
    – John Lyon
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 2:55
  • 4
    @Tim why should anyone do that for free? Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 14:29
  • @Tim That is location based.. here in Europe many of our contracts are not "all inclusive" (yet) Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 15:36
  • 2
    @Tim I didn't read their specific contract, but in Europe (including the UK) salaried workers normally have working hours gov.uk/overtime-your-rights Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 15:43
  • 2
    @Tim: if it was in their contracts then the questioner wouldn't be wondering whether or not it's reasonable to expect it, they'd be asking their lawyer whether the contract is enforceable. 12 hours is what this answerer agreed for critical weekends. On non-critical weekends he can go camping out of range of a phone mast, on critical weekends he can't. That's the difference between time off and standby. Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 17:46

Your CEO noticed on Monday that something went wrong. So apparently he or she thought it was fine for themselves not to be on standby.

Fact is: Being on standby is something that people will want compensation for. Especially qualified people who won't have a problem finding a job elsewhere. If I'm on standby that means I can't go to the movies where I have to switch my phone off, I can't go to a barbecue and have a few beers that make it impossible for me to drive, and unwise to do any work :-). I can't take the kids to the seaside if that means driving back is two hours drive. Lots of things I cannot do. That requires compensation for being on standby. And of course additional compensation for actually having to work.

If your employees don't want to do this for free, then it's not your job to convince them, it's the CEO's job. Good luck.

  • 62
    Also within the UK, unless your employees choose to opt out of the Working Time Directive, it's not actually legal to have on call time. Similarly they can choose to opt back in whenever the like (by giving notice to that effect, which is agreed upon when opting out but is typically 1-3 months). It could also be illegal to require this to be unpaid for the purposes of the UK Minimum Wage (Case law: MacCartney v Oversley House Management (2006)), although this is dependent on the scenario.
    – Jon Story
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 15:40
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    Its also pretty preposterous. Being "on standby" is called "on call" where I come from, and its usually paid at 50% rate when you're not called in, and 200% rate for when you are called in. I doubt your CEO wants to pay for every waking moment and sleeping moment on the entire weekend, so drop that idea entirely.
    – Magisch
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 7:32
  • 15
    @bobo2000 Generally, yes. An example system would be any time you are on standby at all is paid at 50% hourly wage (or yearly wage broken down to hourly when you're salary) and when you're called in then its 200% or 400% of hourly wage for the time you're called in (there is usually a 4 hours minimum, even if the work only takes 20 minutes)
    – Magisch
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 8:52
  • 9
    @bobo2000: Yes, that's the entire point. You pay half the normal rate until there's a call, and then double the normal rate. So for an normal wage of say $30, the standby rate would be $15 and a weekend (Friday 18:00 - Monday 08:00) would be 62 hours*$15 = $930. Note that in the EU, standby hours do count towards the maximum working time so you can't have people on standby for two weekends in a row.
    – MSalters
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 8:53
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    @BobJarvis: You get not paid for times where you are free to do whatever pleases you, and you get paid for times when you are told by your company what to do. On standby you are told by your company to stay close to your phone, close to your car, don't get drunk, and be ready to leave at any minute. That's admittedly not something that's hard work and needs high qualifications, so the pay for standby is lower than for actually working, but it should definitely be paid for.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 8:32

Your entire startup is on fire and you're asking why your TV won't turn on. Here's everything I see wrong with your situation:

  1. Your CEO has no contact with your developers. You're a 6 person company and there's already a layer of middle management?
  2. Your CEO has neither product management skills nor engineering skills, which I can tell because he both hired you and can't fix the customer problem. So he's just a glorified angel investor who complains to you about how things are run -- but has no idea how to run things himself?
  3. You don't have any engineering skills yet are responsible for engineering problems.
  4. Apparently the engineers have to silence you on their phone on weekends and weeknights. This is flabbergasting. I have no words for how bad of a sign this is.
  5. The engineers have not quit yet, even though they have to silence their PM (their boss?) on weekends and weeknights.
  6. The CEO wasn't aware of a huge problem until the Monday after. Again, flabbergasting.
  7. Things broke on the weekend. Okay, that's inevitable for any company at any stage, but I'm going to take a wild guess it's symptomatic of rushed development with no quality, because that's what happens when no engineer has decision making power (or no engineer is worth having decision making power).

Do what you will with this information. I wouldn't bother trying to convince someone to work on "standby" when they've already silenced you on their phone so they don't have to hear from you.

So, here's my suggestions for how to solve this. It's based on what I've surmised of your situation, which may be a bit inaccurate depending on how lucky my guess is, so take this with a grain of salt of course.

  • My first suggestion is do not ditch the developers. Good developers will have two problems: they cost exceedingly more than what my psychic consulting abilities tell me your CEO is willing to pay, and they won't put up with lots of oncall shifts without strong emphasis on quality.
  • Consider ditching the CEO and working with someone you can learn from and grow with. This is the most cynical solution. You may want more experience in larger firms before startup life, as well.
  • Force the CEO to back off and give you control over running the company. Clearly you are running it anyway, and it's easier to run a company without a backseat driver.
  • 16
    Pretty much this, I just want to reiterate that the OP is a layer between the "CEO" and a four person team in a 6 person company. This is a troublesome affair.
    – user9158
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 9:21
  • 2
    How did you get from OP's "often completely switch off, i.e. not contactable by SMS" to this part of the answer "Apparently the engineers have to silence you on their phone on weekends and weeknights"? Was there other comment-based information? There's quite a difference between a staff member not being contactable because it is not a priority for them to charge phone or keep it with them (or perhaps deliberately switching off to watch a show), and playing cat-and-mouse games with their work boss. I would agree if the latter applies, this is very serious issue, just I don't see it in OP's post Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 10:26
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    @NeilSlater: probably sheer disbelief in the notion that there are still luddites who can survive 48 hours without their phone on. So if they aren't answering they must be blocking/call-screening. I'm like that, I can easily leave my phone in the bedroom all weekend and not think to check it, but a lot of people find this fairly incomprehensible. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 15:48
  • 3
    @SteveJessop there certainly are such people, however, if the entire team happens to do so, I'd be quite sure that it's not simply a coincidence.
    – Peteris
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 18:17

How can I get the rest of the team to commit to this?

You have to incentivize them. Talk to the CEO about a strategy for incentivizing the team. It could be money, it could be time off, it could be food, it could be team recognition, it could be tickets to a local event, etc. You know the team, you should know the best way to motivate/incentivize them. Importantly, you also must check into local labor laws to see what is allowed, as this could limit your options. For a team as small as yours, this should be the easy part and shouldn't affect the company bottom-line too much. If it does, you have deeper issues with your product that you need to be worrying about.

The next thing to do is to clearly communicate to the team that this is expected of them. They need to be able to be contacted on nights and weekends in case something happens. In other words, you need a disaster recovery plan that is clearly communicated to the team. This plan should detail expectations, how they are to be contacted, for example. If that requires a cell phone, what do you do if someone doesn't have one? Does the company subsidize everyone's phone?

Does my boss have the right to expect them to be on unpaid standby?

I don't know about a legal right, so I won't approach it from that standpoint. But, if he has never communicated to them the expectations, then no, he doesn't have the "right" to expect them to read his mind.

If he has clearly communicated to them the needs of the company and that it may occasionally require responding to a disaster, then yes, he does have the right to expect them to be on unpaid standby (unless labor law dictates otherwise). That said, a good boss would make up for it as described earlier, otherwise those who can and don't like it will leave. Those who don't like it, but can't leave (i.e., can't find a new job) will stay. You probably don't want your team filled with people like that.

To really answer this does depend on what you mean by standby. Do you mean "must be able to log in (possibly remotely) within 5 minutes of a problem"? Or do you mean "need to be available within an hour or two when a disaster strikes"? If the former, I can imagine employees being very upset and leaving without compensation. You would basically be telling them they cannot do anything on the weekends (or 1 weekend a month if this is divided among the team). If it is the latter, and it doesn't happen but twice a year, a simple paid lunch/dinner or gift cards for a night out with a significant other would probably do.

  • 42
    It could be money, it could be time off, it could be food, it could be team recognition, it could be tickets to a local event, etc - Since this is in the UK, it almost certainly has to be money: see MacCartney v Oversley House Management (2006)
    – Jon Story
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 15:41
  • 14
    Also, 'time off' isn't a good incentive for people to give up the time off they already have. They've already got time off. Telling them, "Well, we'll give you even more" just underlines that time off is very valuable. You're gonna need to find something they value more than the time off they already have.
    – JS.
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 20:19
  • 2
    a night out with a significant other is a bit difficult. People working all week and being on standby all weekend every weekend often do not have SOs - or lose them sooner or later. Now don't see that as a problem, see that as an opportunity. An incentivizing opportunity... (evil chuckle).
    – frIT
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 21:16
  • Hire a fifth person (or more if you want 24 hour cover as well as 7-day cover)
  • Arrange a rota for standby. Existing employees might decline to participate, it's a change of contract. So it might take time before new hires understand the system well enough to provide effective emergency cover, but you're moving in the right direction.
  • Pay people something just for being on standby, either cash or some fractional rate of time off. Pay them at least their usual rate of pay (or time off at 1:1 or better) when actually called in from standby. Or even better, pay them to work the day from home so they don't have to deal with the uncertainty. If you can find one person to work Tue-Sat and one person to work Sun-Thu instead of Mon-Fri then you have basic 7-day cover (granted, with little or no backup).
  • Take advice from an HR specialist and/or employment lawyer to make sure your conditions actually can be upheld, and are competitive with other companies that your employees might flee to in preference to giving up their weekends.

Does this cost money? Of course, and one of the reasons your lightweight agile startup company is undercutting its heavyweight enterprise-grade competitors is that so far you haven't been providing or charging your clients for 7 day coverage, whereas big suppliers pay support staff the going rate to work weekends.

Can you reasonably expect to get 7 days of work for 5 days of pay just by being upset? No. It's very difficult to persuade your employees that something is important, if it isn't worth money either to your or your clients. Apparently the CEO feels it is worth wrecking your employees' private lives for: if that's less important to him than money, then your employees will pretty quickly figure him out. Find out where your mouth is and put some money there ;-)

does my boss have the right to expect them to be on unpaid standby?

That's a legal question about their contracts, but my guess is no. This being the UK, quite possibly their contracts say that they'll work overtime as needed. AFAIK such clauses are not held to mean that employees must make themselves available 24/7. Most likely their contracts don't say that they have to leave their phones on over the weekend in order to be called in at zero notice. Nor is it likely that their contracts prevent them making weekend commitments that would prevent them working even if they are contactable (travel, attending their own wedding, that sort of thing).

With a team of four, you cannot get by on just hoping "someone" will be available and willing to come in on any given weekend. Even if everyone was willing in principle (which they aren't, but just suppose) there's a good chance you'll ring around and nobody is able that day. So if 7-day cover is worth having then it's worth scheduling in advance who will provide it each day.

  • 4
    "Pay them at least their usual rate of pay" - I'd change that to "at least overtime pay". If anybody expected me to work at 3 o'clock on a Sunday morning and not pay at least double my hourly rate I'd reject the "offer". Apart from that spot on.
    – Voo
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 21:46
  • 3
    @Voo: sure, if the contract already includes overtime rates. A typical UK contract for a professional position doesn't, though. Rates for being called in should be negotiated at the same time as the rate for standby, then everyone knows what to expect instead of the CEO making expectations up as he goes along. I'm not sure whether the 7-day cover the questioner has in mind would include 3am Sunday morning: 7-day doesn't necessarily mean 24/7, and naturally 24/7 is more expensive :-) Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 8:01

The customer should have a support agreement. If support is provided on the weekend then need to have a support plan. In a small startup with 4 employees a support plan is the CEO's responsibility. CEO cannot just expect a group of developers to auto support 24x7. Even if you rotate that is on call one weekend a month. People are going to want something in return. CEO can expect a lot of things but things. If this is a team with equity positions then they are going to be more motivated. If it is just a base fair salary then giving up one weekend a month is a big deal.

You are going to need to give up something for being on call and some reimbursement for hours worked. Burn out a small development team is not a good long term plan. And you know who should be the last on call on the call out - the CEO.

Sounds like development is support and there is no formal support plan. As a company grows you need to separate support from development. Is this a first time CEO? CEO is upset since nothing was done over the weekend is not a mature response.

If you have just one developer then he is screwed. Others can field calls and maybe fix simple stuff but for most calls the developer would need to get involved.

  • 1
    Early - mid stage start up, does not have an established team for support. Just one guy doing QA, One developer, One guy PMing (me) and a sales guy. We are starting to grow so are experiencing this problem for the first time - and yes CEO is a first time CEO.
    – bobo2000
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 12:56
  • 14
    I think you need to stand up to him. CEO is the person that signed the contract with a support agreement. It is his job there are processes to cover contractual agreements.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 13:06
  • 6
    So are all 4 of you capable of resolving the issue your customer experienced on your own, or is the reality that you need that 1 developer to be on standby 24/7 no matter which one of you actually takes the call from the customer?
    – brhans
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 16:47
  • 1
    @brhans That would be a question for the OP.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 16:51

It is absolutely unreasonable to expect a team to work on weekends unless it has been previously agreed to. It kind of sounds to me like you need to go to bat for your team here.

I've worked at a ton of startups as a project manager, and while yes - it is expected that during crunch time you are at the very least open to making yourself available (and if the thing falls apart you absolutely fix it), in general this expectation is kind of unfair to workers. If you don't want them bringing their kids to work, having picnics in the middle of the day, popping out to go to a movie, don't ask them to bring their work home with them on weekends. Separating work and home life is essential to producing effective work and avoiding burnout. It would be one thing if they're being paid overtime (if hourly) or if they're making enough of a salary that it's worth it for them, but unless this has been previously agreed to and acknowledged by the whole team, I wouldn't expect them to just be on call 24/7.


As you don't state the country, there is no way of giving legal advice, for which we usually send people to lawyers anyway.

As for expectations: they usually have to be expressed ahead of time.

Standby is normal during a roll out of a product and usually can be expected. Standby time in such cases can often be compensated at least in part, if there is work to be done, it can be fully compensated. Compensation can be done in time or money. Work done at night or on Sundays in some countries yield higher compensation (Switzerland: 150% for Sundays, 125% for work at night).

If standby is expected regularily, it has to be negotiated contractually in all places I know.

  • 2
    We are based in the UK.
    – bobo2000
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 11:48
  • Is the stand-by option based in their contract?
  • Are they offered extra benefits for being on stand-by?

If one of the answers is Yes, you have chance to convince them to be on stand-by. Otherwise: Forget it, or make the answers true.

Employees are expected to do what is in their contract. Nothing more, nothing less. The only way to change it is to change the contract. Sometimes one side may do a favour, but it must be exceptional and based on free will!

Suppose there is no stand-by option in the contracts and the project is on a hurry and it is exceptional case. Then you may offer them that for next mont they will be on stand by. In exchange the will:

  • be paid extra half wage for being stand by and extra wage for actually working during weekends. Measure the working hours from the leaving home to returning there.
  • get 3 days off of their will for one weekend on stand-by after the project is finished.
  • have option to decline or accept this deal. Say 2 of them will be on stand-by, other two will have regular weekend.

Aditionally, ensure them that this is an extraordinary scenario and be grateful if they help, be pleased if they consider it and be neutral if they decline. You and your CEO shall be on stand-by all the time and when the duty calls you shall be there first. After that you can discuss and possibly change the contract - base this policy in contract and add reasonable payrise.

  • I agree with this answer, it's the only one to even mention the employees contracts which, imo, is the only important factor. If it's not in the contract, THAT is your problem! Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 3:06
  • @Maybe_Factor What is in contract is a must (for both sides, obviously). Everything else is a favour.
    – Crowley
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 7:30

How can I get the rest of the team to commit to this?

For starters, add the standby responsibilities to their job description. Second, you should probably lead by example and be on standby yourself. It might work best if you offer yourself as the initial support contact, and then you can determine the best course of action, and whether it is necessary to bring in the team on weekends.

Does my boss have the right to expect them to be on unpaid standby?

This is very dependent on local labor laws, and whether they define standby time the same as actual work time. In general actual time worked must be compensated in some form. You should consult an expert in local labor laws for a clear answer on this one.

If there is an employment contract/agreement in place that does not mention standby responsibilities, and doesn't have a blanket statement such as "other duties as determined from time to time," then augmenting the job description may not legal without a change to the contract/agreement. Again, you should consult a qualified labor expert in your area.

  • 13
    An excellent plan, except it totally destroys your work/life balance. Being on standby requires payment in my book. This is not just about what you have to do according to the laws, but also what you need to do so your employees don't run away.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 12:40
  • @gnasher729 Exactly! I've never liked being on-call, but at least when I was, my employer provided hour-for-hour comp time (I was salaried). In today's job market for technical workers, employers are going to have to pay (in some form) for undesirable work duties.
    – Kent A.
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 12:54
  • I have often worked stand by, I hated it - I guess that I could be firmer with my team, but I am a bit more understanding that it is not fair on everyone from working hard during the week.
    – bobo2000
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 13:01
  • 8
    Unpaid standby sucks! If there is unpaid standby, people will search for another job. The people who are first able to find a new job without unpaid standby are usually the better people. The better people leave, the company will be left with the not so good people. Everything goes downhill from that. I have been in a situation like this and left. The company was gone after some time. For a small company, each employee is a huge part of the companies assets. Never forget that!
    – Josef
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 14:47
  • 3
    a blanket statement such as "other duties as determined from time to time,". You may want to consult a lawyer about the interpretation of that phrasing. In particular, it may mean incidental duties for which it would be unreasonable to have a permanent position in the company. However, 24/7 support by definition is not incidental.
    – MSalters
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 10:39

There appears to have been a lack of, or breakdown in communications within the company. Before the product went live, there should have been clearly defined and agreed-to expectations between all concerned. Even though you are only a startup, and startups thrive on informality for the sake of speed, there are some things you can't afford to skim over. This includes service levels the customer can expect, and support responsibilities up and down the organizational structure. It seems there were assumptions made on all sides - the CEO, you, the team, and the customer.

To prevent a repeat of this sort of thing, things need to be decided and mutually agreed upon. If off-hours support cannot be negotiated with the team, then that needs to be communicated up and reflected in the service level agreement with the customer. If business success requires off-hours support, then that needs to be reflected in the employment agreement, and the compensation package. Since this is a startup, the importance of availability for off-hours support should probably have been explicitly communicated to the team when it was first formed.


Why does the WHOLE team need to be on standby as oppose to a rotation schedule? Since you have 4 individuals you can easily just make a schedule of rotation where an individual is "on call" for just 1 weekend. This isn't unfair and perfectly acceptable at any tech company to have on call schedules. Chances are they won't do anything other than having to make sure to bring back any laptops, pagers, or other equipment they take home. You can offer a small compensation like 100 dollars each time someone is on call.

It'll be a learning experience for all but you'll need tools to:

  1. Remotely monitor your servers
  2. Remotely update status that pages all party involved
  3. The ability for someone to do all the things they can do at work without having to come to work. Not recommended to share personal cell phone or contact, but order a company phone that someone can call.
  4. Potentially have compensation but I recommend not to unless their task takes more than an hour.
  5. Impose heavy penalty to anyone who decides to not take customers seriously. While this sounds unfair it is needed or else the "on call" schedule will be just something nobody cares about.
  6. While they don't have to solve ALL problems, they can at least log it and inform the customers they are on it. You may even get away with an afterhour ticket system for customers so that way they won't feel left out.

Sure there will be a lot of complaints but tell your employees you are not accepting excuses and it has to be done. You will only hear improvements, not how to avoid it. Just as qualified people can leave, so can you hire new qualified people.

  • 9
    As much as you might want to do this... I expect given this is a UK based company this would be asking for lawsuits, resignations and constructive dismissal claims. Generally you cannot demand staff work or remain on standby without paying them, nor can you substantially change their work contract and responsibilities unilaterally. In essence, if you agreed a standard 5 day week with them, unless you can convince them to agree to changes through better incentives and pay, you are stuck with it.
    – Vality
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 20:10
  • 8
    If he follows this route he will likely lose his sole developer (i know this job market, no idea about the others), which from the sounds of it would likely sink the company.
    – Steve
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 21:30
  • 14
    "Potentially have compensation but I recommend not to unless their task takes more than an hour."... apart from being illegal in many, many countries, this strikes me as as step 1 of a one step plan to get rid of every qualified person in no time at all. Seriously, what self respecting software engineer is going to let himself be exploited by the company to work for free on weekends?
    – Voo
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 21:49
  • 16
    "Impose heavy penalties" ?! You're going to fire the only developer? And the justification for this is "not taking customers seriously"?! What about taking employees seriously? This kind of mentality is why interviewing is a two-way street.
    – MSalters
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 9:04
  • 6
    If a "CEO" would try that with me, my "improvement" would be: "Active immediately, I quit. Go f*** yourself". It's not like there is a shortage of jobs for qualified developers. Good look to that "CEO" then finding a new developer who is willing to work under that conditions, knows the software and is competent. Advise like this can easily kill a whole company!
    – Josef
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 13:49

Startups do expect people to work strange hours when need be. I'd sack the whole team if I had my product down and no one wanted to get it working. The product is critical for a startup, their reputation and business are almost wholly dependent on it. So it's a direct hit on the bottom line.

I wouldn't get rid of them all at once, I'd get rid of the worst as soon as I could find a replacement, and the rest would soon follow if they didn't wake up their ideas.

One of my biggest selling points as a consultant/contractor is that I will do whatever is necessary in terms of time to get them back on their feet if there is need. And Airlines have zero hesitation with calling me up at 2AM on a Sunday morning if the alternative is delaying a flight and putting 60 people in a hotel. I'll work as long as it takes and sleep in a server room if need be.

Right now if I were you I would call a meeting and tell the staff that this is very bad, explain how the business just took a hit to rep etc,. and let them think about it themselves and see if any of them come forwards with suggestions on their own. But I'd be already keeping an eye out for the first to get rid of.

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