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Can employers contact you when you are taking annual leave (holiday time) and do you have to respond if they do

(30 Posts)

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I had a message on my answerphone yesterday saying there was a problem at work and I needed to contact them ASAP. I sent an email clarifying what they were querying but this seems to have opened a can of worms!

Bit irritated as I am taking some holiday time and don't want to be disturbed or feel obliged to call back. Am I within my rights to ignore any messages?

Oh and the email was sent to my work account which I technically have access to at home but if I didn't I would be non the wiser until I got back to work in a couple of weeks.

oranges Thu 17-Jul-08 11:37:02

didn't you set an out of office reply?

Yes I did.

Blu Thu 17-Jul-08 11:38:15

I have occasionally contacted emplyees when on hol - when i have known that they would rather be contacted about something than have a big decision that affects them taken in their asence.

But I work in a field where people do it for love not money, and take a high degree of responsibility for thier department. I wouldn't be at all offended if they ust turned off thier phne or didn't reply to an e mailduring leav - I wouldn't take it for granted that tye would respond. (but they always have - willingly).

I had a big medical emergency situation with DS recently, and the specialist nurse who works with us had previously given us her mobile number. I rang it, she turned out to be on hol, but she still did all the necessar contacting the cinsultant, ringing us in the evening etc. I thanked her at her apointmen yesterday and she said 'I'd much rather take the call and know that things are all right - that's why I gave you mynumber' . She is a regular NHS employee, but in a specialist role.

But the first voice message was on my home telephone so obviously picked that up.

I don't work in a life or death job though, if I did then that may be different.

There is a history of treating me unfairly since having DD which is why I am so precious about the time I do get off.

Blu Thu 17-Jul-08 11:42:15

Is it about anything that you would have been responsible for?

We are just sorting out a huge and expensive international problem that was caused by the employee of another organisation, who was supposed to forward a touring theatre set to the next country on tour. He had a slight problem with the freight co, did not sort it out, left the office with the set not on it's way and turned his phone and e mail off for 2 days saying he was on hol.

If that employee sounds like you, could urge you to respond? grin

Blu Thu 17-Jul-08 11:43:36

Sorry - x-posted.

Sounds as if they are behaving not well.

I Understand your resentment.

I don't know what employment law says about this.

mishymoo Thu 17-Jul-08 11:44:27

What happens if you were abroad somewhere? You would never have known that they have tried to contact you!

callmeovercautious Thu 17-Jul-08 11:49:50

Depends what it is for. This week I rang someone on Holiday as I needed info so we could pay her. I think that was urgent as it effected her. If someone had left with keys for something I would also call and arrange for someone to collect them etc.

If it is a query about something that can wait/someone else could deal with them ignore them.

OrmIrian Thu 17-Jul-08 11:52:39

I get contacted quite often at weekends and when I take one or two days off, but my manager tries to avoid it when I'm taking proper leave. He had my mobile no too. It can be very important that they get hold of me but TBH if I'm not there when the call comes I don't get upset over it.

Bink Thu 17-Jul-08 11:59:05

I get contacted a good bit - don't mind it really, because (a) my work has a culture of pride in "holding the fort" - so the people in the office only contact someone out of it if ONLY that person and no-one else can deal with the matter; and (b) perhaps of more relevant general advice-use, I've put effort into my own working patterns set-up, specifically so that being asked questions when out of the office is not a hassle. (Eg: I can usually say, yes, that piece of paper is in the third grey file on the left, around tab 14. Let me know if you don't find it right away and I'll email the soft copy.)

Bramshott Thu 17-Jul-08 12:05:31

I think this is a growing problem. 10 years ago, it would have to be a real emergency for anyone from the office to get in touch with someone who was on holiday. But in these days of blackberries and work mobiles it's too easy to get in touch with people. When my DH is off, he takes calls and sends emails every day and I don't think it's healthy - everyone needs holiday time to switch off.

I do think that there is a growing culture of work mattering above everything else. Surely it can't be healthy to have a 24/7 expectation of your employees and no-one is completely indispensible, are they? I feel it is a real intrusion into my time, I give enough to my job as it is - working late into the evening/weekends at home when work loads are high - without the added pressure of feeling obliged to respond when I am supposed to be on holiday. I would never dream of contacting a colleague when they are away.

What is the legal viewpoint I wonder?

Oh and LOL at Blu grin

No that is not me thankfully wink. I am a lecturer and some assignments I marked can't be found, I emailed to say I don't have them expecting that to be that.

Twiglett Thu 17-Jul-08 13:03:47

Is it your job alone or can anyone else sort it

Would the wrong decision make your job worse when you return

Is it urgent?

Is it important?

Is it both urgent and important?

flowerybeanbag Thu 17-Jul-08 13:05:25

Legally you must get your holiday time, but there's nothing about whether it's acceptable to make contact or not, that would normally be for negotiation between employer and employee as to whether the employee is happy to be contacted and about what type of issue.

If you spend a chunk of time dealing with issues when you are supposed to be on holiday I would recommend asking for a day or half a day holiday back.

If what they have contacted you about really wasn't necessary, let them know that you weren't happy about it but felt obliged because of the 'ASAP', and would prefer not to be contacted again.

As mishymoo said, you could have been abroad or not contactable. I am assuming they knew you would be around though?

Twiglett Thu 17-Jul-08 13:06:09

so there were assignments, that you marked, that can't be found

do end of year grades or exams depend on them

were they last in your possession or have you handed them on to someone else

if you marked assignments and students are waiting for grades and you haven't returned them to the correct place/person then I think you should be sorting it out when on holiday ....because other people's emotions are involved

if you have returned them to the correct place/ person then that is the end of it surely

Flier Thu 17-Jul-08 13:08:28

so if it is that some assignments, does this mean that a pupil could fail their course? I think I'd rather have been asked if I had the assignments, and I think they were right to phone, if that is the case.

OTOH, if it was over something petty then I'd be really annoyed that they phone me while on annual leave.

Oh no, the grades have been entered into the system (I work at a Uni) and all the assignments were handed over to the administrator about 4 weeks ago. I did reply to the first message because I appreciate that they do need to know where they are BUT the second message is asking for more information that simply can wait but the tone of the email suggests if I don't respond immediately then there will be consequences.

Flowery - they didn't know where I was, I haven't discussed my holiday plans as I did not know what my plans were.

Twiglett Thu 17-Jul-08 13:19:13

I would email back and tell them they were graded entered onto the system and returned to xxx and as you are on holiday you would prefer not to be contacted unless it is urgent

flowerybeanbag Thu 17-Jul-08 13:20:36

So you could have been scuba diving off a small rowing boat somewhere quite easily then?

It sounds as though the first message was urgent and reasonable to expect you to reply if you possibly could, which you did.

If the second bit could easily wait or be handled by someone else then that's not reasonable and I'd be inclined to be fairly firm about not being contacted further. What on earth consequences do they mean do you think? Consequences for you? That wouldn't be reasonable either, obviously.

Flier Thu 17-Jul-08 13:22:38

yes, in that case i would be very annoyed, but remember that tones in emails can often be misconstrued. Could you perhaps phone and ask what the big hoohaa is, or would you rather not speak to this person?

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