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When Is Work, Work? Expand / Collapse
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Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008 9:01 AM
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Interesting about the Fair Labor Standards Act. I haven't heard of any companies that "refund" your vacation if you've got to dial in via laptop or work via phone while of vacation. I never heard of that, maybe its something they don't want to broadcast.
I suspect if I'm on for 8 hours or close to it, most management that I've ever had would be been willing to do something, whether it be comp day or otherwise.
Post #566235
Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008 9:16 AM
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As stated before I do not have one and probably will not ever had one for business.

If I am forced to volunteer to carry one, it will have to have an agreement on the front end as to hours and I will not answer on my time unless they pay me for it. Why should a person work for free? If you want to take part of my home life you would have to pay far more for it. I work for my employer by choice, they do not own me, nor would I consider myself a slave to them, or the phone. When I am home I am not a work. I work at work and am on my time at home. If I choose to work at home it is on my terms.

I've been in this business too long to do otherwise. I did my stretch of 70-80 hours a week for months on end decades back and see no need to do it again for grins or for money.

For the time being the land lines are the only connection beyond the net. That is already enough.

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Post #566251
Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008 9:35 AM


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How about this policy. IT workers (Programmers, developers, DBAs) were classified as "Salaried/Exempt". Which meant you were not paid overtime, or given comp time off. Now if you did put in more than 40 hrs in the work week the client was billed for each hour you worked. Nice way to increase the companies gross margin, pure gravy. Now say you were out a day, well you got paid your weekly wage and the day you were out was subtracted from your vacation time, or paid sick leave (3 days per year), or holiday time (7 per year). When all time available was exhausted then you were paid just for the hours worked. We defined the Salaried term as the maximum you were paid in a given week regardless of actual hours worked, the Exempt term was defined as the company was Exempt from paying you overtime no matter how many hours you worked in a payroll week. Phone calls, no IT individual admitted to having a cell phone or blackberry, and no home phone was ever answered until you heard the persons voice, if your manager, you let it switch to voice mail and then waited until close to midnight to suddenly "return home" and call the manager back. Needless to say turn over in the IT staff was quite high.

If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

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Post #566274
Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008 9:40 AM
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There is a fine line between "going the extra mile" and being played for a sucker.

Lawyers and accountants charge by the hour and often the minute so why should I feel guilty about drawing the line.

If your salary reflects a high number of hours then that is one thing but if it doesn't then render unto caesar what is due unto caesar. Jesus said it and it was good advice.

When it is my turn for a 24/7 week then that means that I have to be within 20 minutes of logging on to the works systems. In practical terms this means that means I can only go as far as I can run in 15 minutes. Although I do get paid for this it does mean that my entire family has to go without trips and treats while I am on support.

As I am on call one week in six this isn't usually a problem but in Britain we have just had an entire summer of rain and the one weekend where it was sunny I was on call.

The kids don't really understand that I can't take them on a bike ride, cinema trip, swimming etc when I am on call. Excessive hour don't just affect me, they affect my family as well.

One point I would like to make is that if companies work their employees into the ground what they gain in extra hours they will lose in sickness and absence.

My experience is that people don't work linearly. I do my best work between 07:00 and 12:00. Hours worked beyond the 8 aren't really that productive. In fact I have found that I most productive when I limit my hours to between 35 and 40 per week.


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Post #566279
Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008 9:59 AM


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Previous employer, we had to provide 7 x 24 hour support. Our system supported a world-wide business. We had 3 developers/support people on call, setup with a rotatine 1st, 2nd, 3rd on-call. If there was a problem, the operations staff would call the 1st on-call. If no response in 15 minutes, call the next on-call, and so on.

I had a greate supervisor during part of that time. When I was on-call, I turned off my pager when I was in church, and when on the pitch officiating soccer games, the pager was in my bag. If I could not be reached, there were 2 others who were supposed to be available. We actually had four developers in the rotation at one point, which actually gave us one week off rotation.

I really liked having the pager on weekends when I worked for Data General. We got paid 1 hour straight time for every four hours on-call with the pager. If we got called, we got paid appropriately for the hours worked. I was hourly, so depending on when I got the call, it could have been straight time, 1.5x, 2x, and even possibly 2.5 x.

They thought about having an operator care the pager for a week, but realized that would not be cost effective. Heck I'd have volunteered to caring all the time, if not called it would be an extra 32 hours pay every week.




Lynn Pettis

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Post #566293
Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008 11:33 AM


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I enjoy working for my current employer, a company of about 30 people.

They can best be described as fair and honest, and in turn expect and believe that we will be fair and honest as well. The owner and the managers he has selected have all come up through the ranks, and understand the need for balance in life. When my coworkers have belly-aching sessions, there is never a mention of not being treated fairly, and all of us regularly work more than 40. Comp time is the companies choice for OT reimbursement, and they do not demand any special accounting of our time in order to get it. I never claim all the comp time that I would be entitled to claim. They have more realistic ways of measuring productivity than the time that we turn in.

This is a huge contrast to employers that I've had in the past. I've had a few where the term slave-driver was not a joke. I've worked union and non-union, and they both have their pluses and minuses.

We have an employee handbook, but it doesn't cover the issues in today's editorial. I would not want to see any of these boundaries written into it for the simple reason that all boundaries cover both sides of the issue, and well, be careful what you ask for. For now, the mutual trust just can't be beat.

This is my feeling based only on the job I have now however. The balance of my prior jobs should have some boundaries created. This is especially true as we watch US fair employment and labor laws continually shredded and rewritten to favor employers.


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Post #566345
Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008 12:12 PM


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I don't miss 4 A.M. deployments or dinner-time emergencies, but I picked my current job because it doesn't have the potential for them... but when I did have them, I knew what the gig was when I signed up for it, so complaining about my decision-making process to myself wouldn't help. Every once in a while I miss the higher profile assignments or the start-up environment, but then I remember that my kids know who I am now and they're old enough to beat me at Warcraft, so it's worth the trade off.

:P

I was on the clock in high school and college jobs and I've never been happier since I got off the clock. I've always worked way more than 40 hours, but I always choose jobs that I love doing, so it doesn't matter. I negotiate for the $$ that I want, regardless of the hours required. (Truth be told, I've got a job now that I might do for free... but don't tell my boss.)

I do have a Windows Mobile device (which I pay for) that syncs work and personal email during "work hours" and I answer email during lunch or standing in line for a movie, whatever. My personal disorders make it painful to not be thinking about something or doing something, so answering email is a good way to channel it and postpones my need for medication... Every boss I've ever had appreciates the responsiveness, and it's never really cost me anything that I didn't mind giving. I guess that I've blurred the work/personal life boundaries so much that nobody can really tell the difference, including me.

:D

I do always look to see who's calling before I answer the phone, though... and I'm scrupulous about OOF messages for email when I'm really not checking email and IM.

Personally, I don't want to negotiate hours or track them with my boss -- if I do that, I wind up losing freedom the in the long run... and trying to claim comp-time for other work time will result in closer scrutiny of the other time that I'm not specifically work-focused while I'm sitting at the keyboard in my office. Not a good thing, IMO.

Currently, I have goals, commitments and tasks that are part of the year-long plan... with the occasional fire-drill thrown in for entertainment value. But if it only takes me 20 hours to do it in a given week, nobody notices or cares when I wander off on an unrelated project or just go home and play on the Xbox. It's nice to have a trusting boss who values results over face time or squeezing more productivity out of a stone.

Post #566382
Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008 1:09 PM


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jim.powers (9/9/2008)
chris.turner (9/9/2008)
If you're away from work and you don't want to be called, switch your phone off. I have two phones, one is the work phone and one is my personal phone. My personal phone is always on in case my wife/family needs to get hold of me. If I get a call on that phone from a number that I don't recognise, or from a work number, then I'll happily let it go to voicemail. If I've left the office and I'm able to do some work, then I don't mind leaving the work phone on, otherwise it gets switched off.

It might not work for everyone, but it means that I can seperate work from home life.

This, unfortunately, was not an option for me. There were no employer provided phones, not even for the "higher ups". Further, my boss would not approve out of town travel (even on a holiday) if she could not get in touch with me. She wouldn't even approve a vacation day just to rest at home if she couldn't reach me. This was part of the reason I chose to leave.


I have also worked at places that require a phone number to contact you while you are on vacation. It really sucks, but on rare occasions they have needed to contact me for a really brief answer (such as where did I file a signed contract).

If it required a long answer I responded that I couldn't evaluate what should be done long distance without all my resources at hand. This worked for me, although I can see how it would jeopardize some positions.

Best of all were the vacations where my cell phone was beyond my service area.:P
Post #566431
Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008 1:17 PM


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David.Poole (9/9/2008)
... Although I do get paid for this it does mean that my entire family has to go without trips and treats while I am on support.

...
One point I would like to make is that if companies work their employees into the ground what they gain in extra hours they will lose in sickness and absence.

My experience is that people don't work linearly. I do my best work between 07:00 and 12:00. Hours worked beyond the 8 aren't really that productive. In fact I have found that I most productive when I limit my hours to between 35 and 40 per week.


I totally agree. I can work the occasional 10 hour day, or even do 45+ per week regularly, but when the individual day is longer than 10 hours or the week is greater than 55 hours consistently, the efficiency of my work goes down.

On the on-call issue: I believe UK employees get a lot more vacation time than US employees. Most people here get two or three weeks per year, and a lot of people don't take it all, either rolling it over or taking cash out if that is available. I think UK employees start at four weeks a year, don't they?
Post #566436
Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008 1:23 PM


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In my prior job, I was on hourly, and if I had to answer a work-related call or e-mail, it went on the clock. I just had to e-mail HR and they would log the time. I then presented the call log from the cell phone or the relevant e-mail, for documentation, and got paid for that time.

Went onto overtime many weeks because of that.

I'm currently on salary, and my boss and I keep a running tally in our heads of off-hours projects, and I periodically take a 3-day weekend to catch up from it. Nothing formal, but it works well enough. I don't keep track of the 1-minute calls, and he doesn't keep track of my lunch breaks. It's pretty fair and very reasonable. Neither of us abuses it.

One company I worked for had as many people as possible on salary exempt, and demanded that they do a full 40-hour week every week (or docked their pay), but didn't pay overtime or comp time or anything if they went over 40. Unsurprisingly, that company had amazingly low employee loyalty and had real trouble holding on to anyone with any competence at all. They went bankrupt a while back and all their assets were bought out by competitors.


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