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Old 7th April 2021, 12:38 AM   #1
arthwollipot
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The Right to Not Be At Work

As an introduction to this thread, I'll link to this First Dog on the Moon cartoon. It's a safe link to the Guardian news service, and a single-page political satire:

https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...-is-ridiculous

As is the case for most political satirists, First Dog has a good point. It is increasingly expected for people to be available for work purposes when they are not actually at work. In my own organisation, we provide 24/7 on call services, though we state that it is for urgent purposes only and they get Christmas off, because something something Christianity something. However, it is only one person and I believe that they get paid extra.

Personally, I do not want to have a job where I was expected to be available when I was at home relaxing. What's your opinion? Are you on call? Do you get paid extra for being on call?
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Old 7th April 2021, 01:19 AM   #2
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The facility I work in is 24/7 operations, so it's expected of a lot of individuals to be occasionally available in positions where there's no need to staff someone, typically managers and above. Usually it's a good idea to empower some subordinates and others to make decisions if they don't want a lot of calls, but there's still things that may need their attention or unexpected occurrences that would require them to come to work that happen overnights or on weekends. But guys that have good teams don't have to deal with it often.

So in that way it's not so bad, a lot of people are trained and educated to be more self sufficient and preps you to step into higher roles.
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Old 7th April 2021, 02:05 AM   #3
The Don
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Personally, I do not want to have a job where I was expected to be available when I was at home relaxing. What's your opinion? Are you on call? Do you get paid extra for being on call?
If you own your own service company then you're effectively on call 24/7 for clients, employees and even suppliers so long as you have your mobile phone with you and your phone number is known to clients, employees and suppliers and/or you can access your emails through it.

That is the case for me but having said that, while I may get calls in the evening or over the weekend, I've not had one in the middle of the night for years.

I think one of the real penalties of flexible working and the technologies that underpin it is way that there isn't a clear break between work and not work to the detriment of the work/life balance. Unless you have a "work" email and a "work" mobile phone you don't access outside working hours then the lines will be blurred (and employers know this and take advantage of it).

These days people routinely provide for free, out of hours coverage that would previously have resulted in double or triple time and a decent payment for being on call.
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Old 7th April 2021, 03:01 AM   #4
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I bill for out-of-hours communications from clients, at a hefty multiplier and a fifth-day MBP.
In Ireland there is now a right to refuse to routinely work outside normal hours.
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Old 7th April 2021, 03:23 AM   #5
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There is a fine distinction to being able to be contacted by work and being "at call".

Employees should be paid for the latter.
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Old 7th April 2021, 03:37 AM   #6
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When I worked in support, for most of the time I was on an on-call rota. As we had people around the world, that was essentially for the weekends, though theoretically we could be called during the week if no-one could be found in the office (I don't think it ever happened in practice). The frequency varied, depending on the size of the team, between one week in three and one in eight. Again, depending on the team size, we were either doing a split shift (usually 12 hours) with someone in another timezone, or doing the whole weekend.

At both the companies I did this, the pay was pretty good. At the first, we got an hourly rate (a percentage of normal salary) for being on call, and then got paid a premium hourly rate if called (1.5 times, IIRC). I don't recall the details for the second, though it was more recent. I was lucky at the first company, since for people who joined more recently, on different contract terms, they only got a flat rate, nominal, payment for being on call, plus hours worked, while I was claiming for the hours I was sleeping during the week. At one point I was on the rota for two different products, and in one month claimed for four weeks of on-call (two on each product, alternating). I would have liked to have seen my manager's face when he got the overtime claim.

The biggest problem was stress, particularly if supporting a product you didn't know too well, and if there was a high chance of being called out. In the case of the four consecutive weeks, mentioned just now, it wasn't too bad since I knew the two products fairly well, and there were very few customers left using either one so there was little chance of being called, and if I were I'd know what to do.

I was lucky that I was always compensated for being on-call; managers were expected to be available 24/7, and didn't get separate payment for that (though they were rewarded in other ways, supposedly).

ETA: When not on call, I might still check email, but I would never feel obliged to do anything outside office hours. I might sometimes reply or forward something if I saw it was essential.
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Old 7th April 2021, 03:39 AM   #7
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Old 7th April 2021, 04:16 AM   #8
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You want people to be at work, then rota them to be at work and pay them their usual rate: on-call is a scam, designed to keep employer costs down at the expense of employees' own time off work.

Disclaimer: retired NHS nurse who at one time or another was conned into on-call work, despite having explicitly said I wouldn't take the job if that was part of it, who was at another point threatened with disciplinary action for not answering my home phone when off duty and screening calls with an answering machine, and who had another employer (yes, you Leicester and Rutland) deliberately abuse the on-call system I'd been conned into.

Last edited by Carrot Flower King; 7th April 2021 at 04:17 AM. Reason: Clarity
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Old 7th April 2021, 04:24 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Carrot Flower King View Post
You want people to be at work, then rota them to be at work and pay them their usual rate: on-call is a scam, designed to keep employer costs down at the expense of employees' own time off work.

Disclaimer: retired NHS nurse who at one time or another was conned into on-call work, despite having explicitly said I wouldn't take the job if that was part of it, who was at another point threatened with disciplinary action for not answering my home phone when off duty and screening calls with an answering machine, and who had another employer (yes, you Leicester and Rutland) deliberately abuse the on-call system I'd been conned into.
Why didn't you just Email them a copy of the contract that they signed which stated that you are not to be on-call?
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Old 7th April 2021, 04:28 AM   #10
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I was a Soldier for almost 30 years. There was an absolute ‘on-call’ expectation, but it was salaried work. I was a Department of the Army civilian for an additional 15 years. If a non-management job required on-call work, I was paid for the time. As a manager, I typically was expected to be available if needed and there was no additional pay for phone calls and it would have raised eyebrows if I had tried to claim compensatory time for a run to the office on a weekend.

I am now President of a very large HOA board. It’s volunteer work and our homeowners absolutely feel empowered to call me for all manner of things at any time of the day or night.
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Old 7th April 2021, 05:00 AM   #11
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Previous three jobs meant six years of periodic on-call for IT support. No extra pay, even if I got called and ended doing work. No adjustment to hours either: if I worked my normal day then got called and worked all night I was still required to work my normal day the next day. For one five month period I was the only person in a department so I was on call 24/7 with no days off, I had to take it several tiers above my manager to get relief...who just called me whenever he got called.

US labor laws are ridiculous, there is no protection from exploitation. "Being salaried" somehow renders you immune from protection, as if how they calculate your pay should matter!

After I moved to my current not-on-call position I realized how badly the stress had been affecting my physical and mental health. I can never go back to being on call.
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Old 7th April 2021, 05:24 AM   #12
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Agreed that on-call time should be compensated.

"Being ready to work at a moment's notice" is work.
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Old 7th April 2021, 06:09 AM   #13
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I am an IT consultant on a long-term contract but paid by the hour. Outside vacations where I don't answer work related calls, my customer can contact me anytime. If that anytime is outside normal working hours I bill them double my normal rate as per my contract.

My contract normally also covers "on call" situations where I get paid a smaller than normal rate (usually 30%) to be on stand by (phone within reach, 15-30 min reaction time). If I'm "activated" the hours are billed at the proper rate for the time of day.

I've put in plenty of overtime without getting paid in the past. I've gotten too old for that **** now. If you want me to work you pay me.
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Old 7th April 2021, 06:10 AM   #14
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Well that's sort of the problem with America. Working yourself to death for no pay is seen as a badge of honor when it's really not.
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Old 7th April 2021, 06:22 AM   #15
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For all my years in police work, this was the norm. At any time, you could be called up to respond to any sort of emergency.
This also applied to mandatory overtime, changes of schedule (like, 12-hour days), and others.
Just part of the “biz”. Rare, but it happened now and again.
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Old 7th April 2021, 06:29 AM   #16
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I was Active Duty for 20 years, been IT ever since. I legit don't think I've been fully "off work" in a complete and total sense since just past my 18th birthday.

But my point is that's not a good thing. It's very degrees of understandable in some cases, but it's nothing to brag or humblebrag about.
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Old 7th April 2021, 07:01 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Agreed that on-call time should be compensated.

"Being ready to work at a moment's notice" is work.
Yes and no.

Many jobs exist to achieve results, not to to consume hours.
For the last 30:years that had been where I stand.
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Old 7th April 2021, 07:14 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by erlando View Post
I am an IT consultant on a long-term contract but paid by the hour. Outside vacations where I don't answer work related calls, my customer can contact me anytime. If that anytime is outside normal working hours I bill them double my normal rate as per my contract.

My contract normally also covers "on call" situations where I get paid a smaller than normal rate (usually 30%) to be on stand by (phone within reach, 15-30 min reaction time). If I'm "activated" the hours are billed at the proper rate for the time of day.

I've put in plenty of overtime without getting paid in the past. I've gotten too old for that **** now. If you want me to work you pay me.
That's pretty much how I run things. However I'm generally not "on call" except for specific scenarios and if people want to be able to call me, they can pay me.
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Old 7th April 2021, 07:35 AM   #19
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I don't get paid by the hour...is the implication that we should all be converted to hourly?
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Old 7th April 2021, 07:53 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Why didn't you just Email them a copy of the contract that they signed which stated that you are not to be on-call?
That's not how NHS contracts work...There is always an "and anything else we say" part. Assuming that you are actually given any form of written or printed contract.

I quite explicitly told them what I would accept; they employed me knowing I would not do on-call; they introduced an on-call scheme anyway; I left, having done a couple of weekends of it and found the set up was being abused, i.e. I was asked to do things outwith the agreed scheme, and fought the trust to a standstill over an official complaint I made.

That trust should not have employed me, knowing what they did, and the intereview process also breached policy.
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Old 7th April 2021, 07:56 AM   #21
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And all of this academic as long as American is a (mostly) At Will Employment.

"You're employer can't make you work off the clock, but can fire you for not working off the clock (because they can fire you for literally any reason outside of a few exceptions)" is the biggest distinction without difference possible.
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Old 7th April 2021, 07:59 AM   #22
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Salaried, exempt, on-call 24/7. I'm part of a team, and in principle we take turns. In practice, there are certain subsystems that only one or two team members have mastered. So each of us is always on the rest of the team's "tier 2" oncall escalation.

On the one hand, I'm well-compensated for it. On the other hand, I'm approaching a point in my life where you probably couldn't pay me enough to be 24/7 oncall.

Ms TP is hourly, and part of a formal on-call rota with the rest of her team. When it's not her turn in the barrel, she quits work at the end of the day and doesn't look back. Me, I'll be fielding inquiries and standing by (even if only infinitesimally) from early morning into late evening.
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Old 7th April 2021, 08:25 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
I don't get paid by the hour...is the implication that we should all be converted to hourly?
Being paid hourly isn't any guarantee that you're going to be compensated for out of hours work.

I used to have a job where I was paid hourly for up to 40 hours a week. I sometimes worked over 80 hours in a week but only got paid for 40. A failure for doing unpaid hours however would result in not having a job any more.
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Old 7th April 2021, 09:00 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
As an introduction to this thread, I'll link to this First Dog on the Moon cartoon. It's a safe link to the Guardian news service, and a single-page political satire:

https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...-is-ridiculous

As is the case for most political satirists, First Dog has a good point. It is increasingly expected for people to be available for work purposes when they are not actually at work. In my own organisation, we provide 24/7 on call services, though we state that it is for urgent purposes only and they get Christmas off, because something something Christianity something. However, it is only one person and I believe that they get paid extra.

Personally, I do not want to have a job where I was expected to be available when I was at home relaxing. What's your opinion? Are you on call? Do you get paid extra for being on call?
On my current job, I'm not on call, ever. Work is work. No one would ever call off hours except in some really extreme (business) emergency. I have only worked one Saturday. I suppose if someone was working at the rare Saturday, which would be at a customer site, and was desperately stuck and there was one key person who knew the answer, the phone could conceivably ring at that point.

In my previous job, I worked manufacturing support. There, you were kind of expected to be on call at any time, but no one was awful about it. It wasn't like if you turned off your cell phone you were fired. It was just that service techs were frequently in the field nights and weekends, and if they needed your help and you were available, you were expected to provide what you could. The company didn't abuse it.


I think that's the real key. Our company was pretty good about respecting people's lives, but going in you knew it wasn't a 9-5 job. There was some travel expected, and there were weekends and off-hours support expected.

I have had bosses ask me to keep in touch while on vacation, and for the most part I tell them to buzz off. In the era before cell phones were ubiquitous, there was this one gathering in August I went to every year, and one year my boss said he wanted to have a contact number to reach me. I told him, "Well, here's the phone number for Cooper's Lake campground. There will be 10,000 people there, and none of us will be using our real names. Good luck."

Once cell phones became normal, though, I couldn't get away with that. Instead I told them that I would check my messages once a day. I did end up doing some tech support from my tent, but, once again, they didn't abuse it.
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Old 7th April 2021, 10:23 AM   #25
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There's another factor here, cell phones.

In 1980 "Good weekend Bill, if you need anything call me" and in 2021 "Good weekend Bill, if you need anything call me oh and by the way we both know damn we'll I have a phone on my person pretty much literally all the time" are pretty different things.

Getting in touch with people is too easy to declare a blanket "If you need me, just call me."

Also the bigger issue is expecting people to "on call" so much that they can't work a second job.

That is the big scam. "You're only going to get 10 guaranteed hours this week, but what we don't tell you what they are until the last possible second so you can't make any plans and also can't possibly hope to hold down another job so good luck living on 10 hours a week."
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Old 7th April 2021, 11:25 AM   #26
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I always had a work-provided phone, and turned it off (or at least reserved the right to ignore it) when not working. No way was I going to give my personal number to anyone at work in my management chain.
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Old 7th April 2021, 11:27 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Also the bigger issue is expecting people to "on call" so much that they can't work a second job.

That is the big scam. "You're only going to get 10 guaranteed hours this week, but what we don't tell you what they are until the last possible second so you can't make any plans and also can't possibly hope to hold down another job so good luck living on 10 hours a week."
I'm guessing that's a very US thing. Second jobs are pretty uncommon here, at least for salaried jobs.
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Old 7th April 2021, 12:03 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
I'm guessing that's a very US thing. Second jobs are pretty uncommon here, at least for salaried jobs.
A lot of low-end retail jobs in the US seem to be this way. Servers in a restaurant. Cashiers in a grocery store. I have no idea why that is, or how the dynamic evolved. I've worked in other low-end hourly jobs where employers seem to have no trouble scheduling people for regular, consistent shifts.
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Old 7th April 2021, 12:07 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
I'm guessing that's a very US thing. Second jobs are pretty uncommon here, at least for salaried jobs.
7.2% of all Americans work more than one job.
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Old 7th April 2021, 12:09 PM   #30
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But even beyond the second job part "Gig work" is toxic. You can't go to school, start a family, or have a life if you have to be "on" to go into work at a moments notice, but don't work enough hours at the job to live off of.
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Old 7th April 2021, 12:54 PM   #31
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I’m paid enough to be on call 24/7, but my phone is silenced from 10:30-6:30, so they aren’t really getting full value.

I often wake up at 6:00 and answer emails before even getting out of bed. I also answer emails late into the night. But most of my actual work gets done during working hours.

A lot of my emails over the weekend are “what is the timeline for this?” And often there is no real emergency. Typically just someone catching up on their stuff over the weekend. Sometimes it is actually urgent.

I used to handle a lot of things that came into me with short fuses that had to be dealt with immediately. I always charged a premium for that, even if I had the time available.
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Old 7th April 2021, 01:19 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
But even beyond the second job part "Gig work" is toxic. You can't go to school, start a family, or have a life if you have to be "on" to go into work at a moments notice, but don't work enough hours at the job to live off of.
I mean, there's gig work and there's gig work. There's people monetizing their hobby on etsy. Nothing toxic about that.

Then there's people trying to compete in the oversaturated OnlyFans market. Unless you're the hottest of the hot, putting in close to full time hours on upkeep and content production, and already have a large following, you're probably better off doing literally anything else with your time and energy. Including nothing at all.

Then there's the sound engineer who gets hired for a six-week gig every six weeks or so, to do studio recording work for some project. He gets paid enough from each to cover room and board and take the occasional break between gigs.

Then there's the guy who lives on a beach on an islet in the caribbean, with two bags in his shack, one of cold weather clothes, one of warm weather clothes. He goes sailing and fishing all day every day. Some days, his satphone rings, and he answers it: "Which bag do I bring"? Then he gets to the nearest airport and flies out to wherever his expertise is needed to salvage some ****-huge ship.
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Old 7th April 2021, 02:57 PM   #33
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I'm always on call for going fishing or having fun.

My goal in life has always been to work as little as possible and enjoy my life as much as I can while doing it. Not an easy goal.

Work is necessary to survive and that's how I view it. I don't live for my job and I'm not sacrificing myself for any employer. Five days a week is too much as it is. We are programmed to think that it's acceptable to work our lives away and be good little slaves.

Being that loyal to a job in the past has not improved my life in any measurable way and the older I get the more I feel that way.

I am not rich at all (monetarily) and I'm fine with that. Maybe I will go fishing today, maybe I won't.
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Old 7th April 2021, 03:08 PM   #34
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"Rota"? Making up new words that aren't really words is one thing, but getting a few people together to make one up & start a thread to use it in while pretending it's totally a real word shows a whole other level of dedication.
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Old 7th April 2021, 03:14 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by mgidm86 View Post
I'm always on call for going fishing or having fun.

My goal in life has always been to work as little as possible and enjoy my life as much as I can while doing it. Not an easy goal.

Work is necessary to survive and that's how I view it. I don't live for my job and I'm not sacrificing myself for any employer. Five days a week is too much as it is. We are programmed to think that it's acceptable to work our lives away and be good little slaves.

Being that loyal to a job in the past has not improved my life in any measurable way and the older I get the more I feel that way.

I am not rich at all (monetarily) and I'm fine with that. Maybe I will go fishing today, maybe I won't.
Dr. Keith: So, what would you say is your dream job?

mgidm86: I do not dream of labor!
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Old 7th April 2021, 04:21 PM   #36
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If you are an hourly employee in America, your employer cannot fire you for refusing to work off the clock. They can fire you for almost any other reason though, in most states, so it's up to the employee to demonstrate that they were fired for illegal reasons.

I had a discussion with the doctors I manage. They wanted to find a way to bill for after-hours calls. They were tired of taking call after hours without extra pay. I -joking but not joking- said, "Yeah, me too. How much should I get paid for all the night and weekend stuff I do?" They didn't really think it was funny but they haven't asked me about on-call pay anymore either.
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Old 7th April 2021, 06:16 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
If you own your own service company then you're effectively on call 24/7 for clients, employees and even suppliers so long as you have your mobile phone with you and your phone number is known to clients, employees and suppliers and/or you can access your emails through it.
You can't put "My office hours are 9am to 5pm weekdays" on your business cards?
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Old 7th April 2021, 06:41 PM   #38
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This thread just makes me sad for a lot of you.
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Old 7th April 2021, 07:03 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
You can't put "My office hours are 9am to 5pm weekdays" on your business cards?
I've always understood running your own business to be a 24/7 job, regardless of what office hours you have posted.

If you offer appliance repair, you're probably going to want to have service hours that extend to times when prospective customers aren't at work, so they can let you in and be present while your employee is there. So that's early mornings and late evenings. Plus also weekends, obviously. If you don't want to leave any money on the table, you'll even offer emergency services for middle-of the night repairs to water heaters or whatever.

The point being, even if you knock off at five, you're still going to have someone dispatching work and someone else rolling out in a truck. Those people may need input from the boss from time to time. And if a job goes sideways at any hour of the day or night, the client may want to hear from you sooner rather than later.

Plus if anything goes wrong with your own business. Power outage. Server crash. Water main breaks. If your own office has a problem, you don't get to wait until Monday morning to see about it. Your employees, maybe. But you're the owner. It's your livelihood on the line.
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Old 7th April 2021, 07:06 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Varanid View Post
This thread just makes me sad for a lot of you.
Save your pity. We're not children. I've known what line of work I'm in for a long time now. I've made an informed choice, and I'm well compensated. I'm good at what I do, and for the most part I enjoy doing it. It's not ideal, but there's a reason it's called work. I'd be interested in hearing your work experiences, and what you think of them. But your pity can **** right off.
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