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When Is Work, Work?


When Is Work, Work?

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Steve Jones
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item When Is Work, Work?

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johannes mattila
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If I answer my phone and say more than that I am not working then its work. Ie if they still want to ask questions after I have informed them that I have left work and have the right to make me work (ie call center, boss or team) I will considere that work.

The way we are set up is that calls taking longer than 15 minutes (and that is how long I will make sure a call will take that I have to work are) will be counted as 3h work (unless on call and then only 2h). If we are scheduled as on call we have blank addition to our salaries, but need to be able to be at work in 90min. We get overtime and used to always aply to the union for extention of the max overtime roof, it got to the point that they sometime forgot to inform the worker that they had passed their overtime maximum. That was a time where all my collegues including myself destroyed our health by stress related issues, happily that has changed and overtime is no longer a problem. The change came due to us taking a stand forcingour bosses to order all overtime for a while and stop working on projects in the end of the day, the lead times that extended made the managment realise that we where not joking when we always asked for more people.
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Steve, most DBAs and developers you know don't get overtime pay? For a DBA at least out of hours work is a given so I hope they are compensated for that fact up front in their basic pay! If not they are getting a bad deal.

I have had a blackberry for 6 months (previously just a mobile, or cell as you call it, for on-call). Its good for the company as I can respond quicker to problems, but I am beginning to feel I am a slave to the thing, I can never cut myself off from work.

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Douglas Phillips-492973
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I've had a blackberry now for a couple months, a moto q for a couple years before that. Note that my company is a consultancy, so the rules are a tad different, but this may be helpful to some.

I have had a standing policy with myself that a phone call after 8PM goes to voicemail. If it's an emergency, they can leave a message and I'll get back to them. I make sure my clients know that. Not sure how the other devs in the company handle it.

I turn off the email notification after around 6 PM or so - same thing on weekends. That allows me to govern when I check my email.

I work from home, so I do the same thing with my work email - separate email clients; outlook is off when I'm off work.

Since I made these changes with my email, my stress level has gone way down, and I actually have a healthy relationship with my wife. I'm not about to let a workaholic client (we all know who they are - whether the "client" is a manager or a real client) ruin my marriage and my health just because *they* can't go home at a decent time.
Jack Corbett
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My previous employer was a 24x7x365 manufacturing company and I was part of the rotating call schedule. The plant at which I worked was actually owned by 2 companies while I worked there. The first company, which treated employees well, was, unfortunately, the Enron of the industry and went bankrupt. This company understood what was mission-critical so the time on call was fairly uneventful, you only were called when product could not be made, shipped, or invoiced because of a computer issue. My boss was also very flexible (he was on the call schedule as well) so that any hours spent working after hours was unofficially granted to us a comp time within the department. This continued when we changed companies for out department. The second company treated and still treats employees, especially exempt employees, as slaves. If they can't get their email from home at 6 am Sunday morning then you had to fix the problem, even if the problem was with their ISP! Needless to say not many members of the IT staff stayed with this company. Out of 9 employees on the IT staff, 5 were "downsized" and 3 left the company of their own volition because of working conditions.

My opinion is that my salary is for ~40 hours per week and when I hit that threshold I should be compensated somehow. Whether with comp time or overtime pay or a raise to acknowledge the extra hours I work. I also know that if I my code has a bug that is stopping the company from working I'll work as long as necessary to fix it and not expect anything for it.



Jack Corbett

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How about working a holiday? Last New Year's day, I was out of town enjoying the day with family. I made the mistake of answering my phone to find my boss at the other end. What I learned was that a parent wanted to look at their kid's grades and could not get in, on the holiday! This parent knew the superintendent so they called him and disturbed all of our holiday's. One of the network technicians had to go to the building since a power failure was at fault. All in all, for one parent, seven people were called for more than 12 person hours of work. On a side note, it turned out to be a good thing we were all called. The A/C evap drain line was clogged and half of the computer room floor was covered in water. Thankfully, everything is on racks so nothing was damaged.

I certainly don't have a problem working some overtime, within reason. I knew that was a possibility when I entered this field of work. However, I do expect some sort of compensation and I also expect to be left alone for non-emergency things like my example above, especially on a holiday.
chris.turner
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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.
James Goodwin
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First, I would expect the waiver mentioned in the article would hold up as long as the workers were not required to be checking their email outside of work hours. If they are required to check, then they must get paid for it.

Second, I make sure that I own my own cell phone. If the company wants to compensate me for it, that's fine, but I want to own it so that I can turn it off when I want.

Third, In the US the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets the rules for exempt workers, says that if you work any part of your salary period (Usually Day or half-day) then you worked that day and it is paid, so if you are on vacation and they call you that is no longer a vacation day, it's a work day. This should also be true of weekends, if your salary period is Day then working on a Saturday should get you another day's pay but probably won't. Most employers will tell you that your salary is a weekly pay but if that is so then when you get that phone call on vacation then the whole week should be considered work. I assume that most business get around this by tricky wording in the vacation policy (example might be calling it an out of office policy), but also because no worker is going to jeopardize their job over it.

It should be noted that this is my own, non-lawyerly, reading of the law from when I was working on calculating overtime for a payroll system 10 years ago.

--
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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.
Steve Jones
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James,

Didn't realize that and good information to have. It's good to know since it might mean that you can your vacation back if you have to work.

I have turned my phone off, or kept a piece of paper handy to crumple in the mouthpiece. That doesn't work as well with digital phones, but waving your hand back and forth in front of the handset does a good job of simulating dropouts Smile

Holidays are funny with different jobs. Some people have compensated me, some haven't. Course, I liked them when I was hourly. Double time!

I think compensation/overtime/comp time for exempt (salaried) workers is hit and miss. Some people do it, some don't.

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