Being on call out of hours - what's it like?

(14 Posts)
OnCallorNotatAll Sat 29-Sep-18 13:18:58

I'm considering applying for a job that has an element of being on call 'out of hours' from time to time. This would be 'on call' in the sense of receiving a phone call and having to sort out a problem, rather than having to travel somewhere.

I enjoy problem-solving and responding to crises, and I don't have any commitments that would stop me being available out of hours, but I'm wondering what it would be like in reality - does it cast a blight over your evenings, or do you just get on with whatever you'd have been doing anyway?

Also, do you find it easy to take the time back, or do you end up working lots of extra hours (role is a non-overtime grade - private sector, for context)?

If you have any experience to share, I would be really grateful.

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strongandlong Sat 29-Sep-18 13:24:41

It very much depends on the specific role. Worth asking how often the on call person has been called upon over the last year.

Some of my colleagues staff an on call rota. 1 week on/4 weeks off. They can't drink and need to stay with a fairly short range of the office, so it cramps their style a bit. They put up with it for the money (£350/week on top of salary).

They very rarely actually get called on.

OnCallorNotatAll Sat 29-Sep-18 13:33:28

Thanks for your reply. This would be on a rota basis, I believe, but the role description suggests it's incorporated in flexible hours rather than an extra payment being made. Not being able to drink would only bother me at the weekend grin - probably no bad thing, though!

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SpoonBlender Sat 29-Sep-18 13:34:09

Totally dependent on the role.

We do on-call, but we get fewer than two callouts a week and a rotation over six people. They get a couple of hundred quid as compensation for not being able to party during on-call week, and time-off-in-lieu if they have to respond (which I generally have to remind them to take).

I'm the escalation so I'm always on but far more rarely involved - three times this year, no pay for it, hurray for being a manager. Neither the minions nor I are stressed out about this level of activity.

In prior jobs I've been in places where it's as bad as having a new baby - calls every two hours, rota of only 2 days on because it's impossible otherwise.

Find out what you're getting into before accepting being on call! Ask specifically about compensation, TOIL, rota interval and activity at interview time.

speakout Sat 29-Sep-18 13:41:41

As others have said it is impossible to generalise.

Each job will be different.

My OH works out of hours on call one week in three and sometimes works non stop outside his regular hours, often getting calls at 3am.

He doesn't have to travel on these hours though, all work can be done from home.
It does mean that he can't go to the cinema, or be more than 15 minutes away from home, and can't accept any social invitations, but he can have a glass or two of wine on a Saturday evening and still work!!

Is your employer offering overtime or extra payment for the on call hours.

OH used to get a stipend for his on call hours, then overtime at double time, but now gets a one off payment- several hundred pounds extra for that week, and it is not dependent on how few or how much time he has to work extra.

OnCallorNotatAll Sat 29-Sep-18 13:41:56

Thank you. If I get an interview, I will ask those questions. I'm always a bit wary of interviewers making responsibilities of this kind sound less onerous than they really are because they don't want to put people off; hopefully they will be honest. TOIL would be fine - I doubt there would be an extra payment, as it's two grades above the highest grade which is usually eligible for overtime.

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OnCallorNotatAll Sat 29-Sep-18 13:46:48

I know every job would be different, I'm just trying to get a general feel for the sorts of impact it might have; the experiences you're describing are really helpful.

I don't have a very lively social life; most evenings I am quietly at home anyway, so I don't think there'd be an issue there.

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BestIsWest Sat 29-Sep-18 14:00:16

I did it for 25+ years in an IT role. It’s ok, you get used to it but you are tied. Cinema, theatre, meals out, walking the dogs, going to Tesco, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, birthdays, anniversaries. Not to mention being woken at 3am when you’ve just just cleared up after the toddler havin d&v and got them and yourself back to sleep. Being up half the night and still having to get up to sort the kids out and get to work. Not to mention having to make critical decisions in the middle of the night when you aren’t at your best and then there are the times when you forget where you put the phone and find 12 missed calls...
So glad I don’t do it any more.

BestIsWest Sat 29-Sep-18 16:18:56

Oh, and try getting someone to swap with you on the rota when you want to go on holiday.

Ragwort Sat 29-Sep-18 16:24:23

I used to have a job that involved being on call & it wasn't much of a problem, the questions were fairly straightforward & my DH used to be able to answer them blush. One amusing incident though, years after I'd left the job I got a call as the person ringing me hadn't updated her telephone list, I gave the same answer I would have given & problem resolved grin.

BestIsWest Sat 29-Sep-18 17:00:47

Lol, my DH used to give advice in the middle of the night too. You have to have a very patient OH.

OnCallorNotatAll Sat 29-Sep-18 17:24:02

Fortunately, my husband works evenings/nights so wouldn't be around to object.

The issue of holidays is a good point. I'm fairly flexible with when I take them but it could be an issue moving into role with dates I have already booked.

I've had a few 'failure to update contact list' moments myself. I still get calls at work about a role I left over three years ago. I got a call a couple of months ago from someone who'd seen my name on a document - a document I was involved in producing in 2006 confused. I was at least able to point them in the direction of the department I thought would now be handling the issue.

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Miljah Fri 12-Oct-18 10:17:48

The one thing I hate about my HCP job is on-call, which is 1:7.

I get paid £2 an hour to be on-call from 5pm to 8am M-F, 24 hours Sa or Sun.

You usually get called once or twice during the week, and often 6 or so hours on a weekend one, but it does mean a 15 mile round trip, and I get paid £24ph once on a call.

But it completely messes with my sleep, if we go out we need 2 cars, and my coming and going disturbs the family.

Hate it.

Larasshadow Sat 13-Oct-18 08:14:21

I've had an on call job for the last year. The things I miss are not being able to have a glass of wine every now and then. Also can't go more that 5 minutes from my place of work so that is restrictive on days when I'm on call. Oh and pager going off at 03:30 is not fun lol.

On the other hand, it fits around the family and my husband's shifts and the job is very varied and exciting.

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