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DH's standby rota - is this legal?

(10 Posts)
PussinJimmyChoos Mon 29-Nov-10 20:41:43

Dh works in the medical laboratory field

His lab operate a standby system whereby if the person doing an out of hours shift requires extra help due to system problems etc, the standby person has to come in - which is fair enough as sometimes it is too much for one person to cope with

However, on days where DH (and all the other staff when it is their turn for a standby) has done a full, normal days work and is on standby, if he/she is required to come in, it means they have worked the whole day and potentially all of the night - depending how early they get called in and how late in they need to stay

Surely this cannot be allowed? How can you safely work with results if you have such minimal sleep? What would be the legal ramifications if such a worker made a genuine error due to sheer tiredness, through no fault of their own, that had serious implications?

onepieceoflollipop Mon 29-Nov-10 20:46:07

This sounds similar to our system (NHS, nurse). We work typically a shift ending at 10pm. Then we return at 9am. In the meantime, we are "on call" and in theory could be out for the entire night (this is rare).

I think the WTD (Working Time Directive) that protects a lot of workers from these types of hours, has exceptions for this type of situaion. i.e. in my case it is due to patient need or clinical emergency or whatever terms they use hence they are able to get away with it.

I don't know the legal position on what happens if one makes an error. In practice in my team if you have worked an evening shift, then been out half the night, and are due in the next day, you may get to go home early on your "day" shift.

HuckingFell Mon 29-Nov-10 20:47:05

normal in IT.

flowerybeanbag Mon 29-Nov-10 21:15:37

Working Time Directive, see the bit about daily rest, exceptions to the regulations and 'compensatory rest'.

What do you mean by legal ramifications of a mistake? Do you mean if someone sued your DH's employer because of a mistake, would he be personably liable? I can't imagine he would for one minute.

frgr Tue 30-Nov-10 13:11:56

h is a programmer with a multi national (scientific field with "mission-critical" (as he likes to call it) type 24hr customers)

technically he's on call Weds-Friday nights all through since he's Head of Development (though gets paid extra e.g. can't drink Tuesday to Friday at midnights).

not sure if that's a special case - but i know his head of testing and some of the other senior staff are also on call on similar terms..?

BelaLugosiinStripes Tue 30-Nov-10 21:18:57

PIJC - has your DH tried asking in the IBMS forum? There is a long running thread discussing exactly this issue.
The whole issue of on-call vs shift system is under review. What "on-call" means varies a lot between path labs and disciplines, his situation is a fairly common one in my experience but with the agenda for change review, it's unlikely to continue. Many places are likely to move to shifts in my opinion anyway.
If he has particular concerns then he should be talking to the union, who should be currently negotiating the above mentioned "on-call" if he is NHS.

PussinJimmyChoos Thu 02-Dec-10 16:20:38

I will ask him to take a look at that - would be interesting to see what others are saying about it actually. A lot of focus seems to be on doctor/nurse shifts but not lab staff - they keep falling through the net so to speak

It's madness how the shift system varies between labs - I mean one lab he knows of, if you do a night shift, you sleep the next day, then the day after that, come in a couple of hours late to get over the sleep lag but stay a few hours later in the evening - this means the late shift gets covered quite nicely

The problem with DH's place is there are a lot of people like him pushing for change and a more modern approach, but the people close to retirement are really digging their heels in and so its just a stalemate

He's had enough of it and Agenda for change keeps being bandied about, along with Pathology review but not a lot gets done <sigh>

BelaLugosiinStripes Thu 02-Dec-10 20:10:59

It sounds like there will be big changes along soon with Pathology transformation. Its a time of great uncertainty, meanwhile everyone like your DH (and me) keeps it all going!
Your DH sounds like he's doing the right things but the frustration must be terrible.
He needs to be a member of the IBMS to access the forum. There's also a yahoo group run by a union rep (but you don't have to be in a union) where a lot information gets shared; there's a lot about on-call vs shifts on there too. PM me if you want a link/email for your DH to contact to join (I don't run it).

ThwopGoesTheMooncup Fri 03-Dec-10 17:18:01

I am a criminal defence lawyer and we take turns to be on call at night or at weekends. If we are out all night we are expected to be in the next day all day. If it has been a true all nighter we may get some slack if we are lucky. Luckily it doesn't happen that often...

Thevelveteenrabbit Fri 03-Dec-10 17:27:53

I think it can make a difference as to how often / how likely you are to get called in and be required to stay for a significant amount of time.
So if he doesn't actually get called in very often then it may be allowed wheras I think it is more dodgy if staff are routinely required to work extended days.
Does he work for the NHS? I know the "on call" agreements that were kept on from pre-agenda for change are due to run out in the next few months.
There is a lot of discussions going on at the moment at work (different profession) and I am not directly involved as I no longer do on-call

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