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PDAs and labor laws

In Canada, there are movements afoot to add PDA usage to employee contracts to keep employees from being taken advantage of. But could this backfire?

The Canadian paper The Globe and Mail ran a story last week in which it stated that a union representing government workers was going to make the use of pocket-size electronic devices such as BlackBerrys a bargaining issue. In other words, it's advocating that the government pay its employees for work they do out of the office.

From the article:

"For some people, having a BlackBerry is like: We own you. You are our person, 24 hours, 7 days a week," said Ed Cashman, Public Service Alliance of Canada's regional executive vice-president for the National Capital Region, who says the union will insert the issue of BlackBerry use into its continuing contract negotiations.

In the United States, legal experts are warning that a new wave of overtime litigation is on the horizon, in which employees will claim overtime for all the hours they've spent clicking away at their hand-held devices.

Some experts believe that adding PDA usage to contract negotiations would result in people working longer hours or would add more expectations around availability. Some say it's up to the individual to just turn the device off.

What's your take?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

51 comments
bstory
bstory

PDA's are a privilege from the employer to extend the mobile worker. The mobile worker in most cases not only uses it for work, but personal use as well. It is up to the user to decide what is important, and then shut if off. My husband is addicted to his. He is on it 24/7. Whereas, I have decided that after hours is optional and only use it then if I am expecting something important. It's time we as american's quit being litigation happy!!!!

jdclyde
jdclyde

All [b]P[/b]ublic [b]D[/b]isplays of [b]A[/b]ffection should be done on your own time, or close the door to your office and turn up the music.... ;\

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Labour laws in BC are a little different it seems. Even when you are a salaried employee, you are entitled to overtime and also get paid for takign calls at home....if you push for it, nobody offers it up front. I have had two companies now that decided ot call me on a day off or after hours to get a couple of answers or customer info etc. They are pretty shocked when I hand them a bill for an extra 2 hours for phoning me at home. After reviewing the provincial labour laws, they quickly pay up and the calls at home are only when absolutely imperative. So it works as a way to get paid as well as a way to slow the calls on my free time. If I actually have ot drop into the office, even for 5 mins. it's an additional 2hrs. If I do any work, 4hrs, if I stay 4 hrs, they pay for 8. This is a great way of curring down on overtime, calls and requests to work off hours etc. Definitely in the employees favour, as are most labour laws in Canada.

SaraVN
SaraVN

At my last job, I wasn't allowed comp time because as the president put it: "Salaried workers are expected to get their work done during business hours, if they don't it's their problem, that the way salary works." Of course this makes sense for a banker or salesperson (his background), but it demonstrated his lack of understanding and/or appreciation of the IT staff. My boss knew better, so I was allowed to "sneak" comp time. My last straw was when the president decided that it was a problem that a was habitually late by a few minutes because "appearances are everything". So from there on out I left at exactly 5 pm (which I had never done before) and minimized working after hours and weekends as much as possible. I left shortly thereafter (with my boss' encouragement) to a place that is more understanding about comp time. (Although the comp time earned, is way more than could be reasonable used).

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

The more expensive you make your labor in this global era the sooner your job will be sent overseas.

sullystuff
sullystuff

If you put your PDA/Cell in a unplugged microwave, you can honestly say it was on and you never got the message. Shielding on the microwave blocks the signal, of course if you plug the microwave in, it fixes the annoying gizmo's permanently.

TechJunky
TechJunky

Are you kidding me? It is an employees choice to turn the PDA's off or to leave them on during 'personal' time. At a IT service house I used to work for, it was frowned upon when employees actually used their vacation time. It was assumed that your job would be more important to you than that. The gray line between work-life balance is getting blurrier and blurrier. The handheld PDA's will just make that line disappear all together because some managers will abuse their actual intention. For a system admin person, the positive side of pda's lead to being able to access your server to check on status, monitor, or fix a problem from any location. The negative side, is that many times those fixes take a while. So, although you are able to access the server from that beachy vacation place you are on with your family, in reality you have not taken vacation with them at all.

MetalFR0
MetalFR0

Bravo to the Union (though I've never been a fan of them) for recognizing this fact. I have a Windows Mobile 6-based device that I use to keep tabs on the network while I'm away, but I do it because I want to, not because the CEO expects it of me. He expects me to be here 8-5, and if problems crop up on the weekend that are of a critical nature, AND I'm in town & available, he would expect those issues addressed. For minor stuff, or when I'm out of town, he just asks that I address those things when I return on Monday. I choose to keep the ability to communicate w/ the network via my PDA so I can help address little problems as they arise rather than having fussy users all the next week.

patclem
patclem

If you're salary-based, too bad. If you're paid on-call, too bad. If you're hourly, turn it off. I might be a little too absolute here, but whatever.

Meesha
Meesha

I had a boss some years ago that decided that he couldn't go that day without speaking to me on some issue (trivial at best). When he couldn't reach me by Blackberry, he held is vitriolic blather for when I returned to the office. His rant went on for more that 10 minutes when he concluded by asking me what I had to say for myself. Believe me it was hard not to laugh when I told him that I was on my vacation, honeymooning on the Mediterranean. The egg on his face would have fed a starving nation. But his only reply was, "okay, just don't let it happen again." We work with such a plethora of personalities that many just don't have the common sense the rest of us were born with. Blackberry, on my honeymoon, sic. Good for that Union that clearly recognizes the vagaries of human nature.

info
info

The idea that IT personnel should be on call 24/7/365 just because is technically feasible does not make it ethically just. Another way of looking at the situation is viewing the IT worker as another cog in the wheel- another object in the department to be manipulated. Management expects 100% up time from the computer/IT equipment- how the IT department accomplishes that is really of no concern. Eventually, despite the "tight" job market, this aspect of the computing industry will undergo some sort of scrutiny and regulation will ensue. It will only take a few class action suits against some of the larger corporate abusers to bring changes to the way on-call technical support staff are treated. What this all comes back to is the bully pulpit of IS upper management,burning out staff ("if you don't want the job, 10 other people will take it")to keep under budget and get a nice bonus.

viper777
viper777

Working in the Gov, Managers and the like with or without PDAs have to be available outside their core hours and they don't get paid anything extra. As one Director said, they are expected to work even if it's in their own time to read and get ready policy and the rest of it. They get paid enough for it without overtime! The rest of us can just leave the place and don't give a hoot to anything until we are back at work the next day. So their PDA's shouldn't give them license to get paid extra in the Manager / Executive areas but should do if a Techie has to be on call for server problems or similar people. If our management are to be paid PDA time, then it wouldn't be long for them to get paid overtime for the tasks they do outside core hours, hence the PDA in their case is just to assist them in some small way.

charlesmartel
charlesmartel

Any work done outside the office should be compensated at the overtime rate, or at the holiday rate on any holiday or day of religious observance. The times when an employee is expected to respond immediately to an e-mail or telephone message should be arranged in advance. Civilized people can come to civilized accommodations. If your employer isn't civilized, you need to find another one.

Bizzo
Bizzo

I agree that it's up to the individual to make the decision to turn their PDA off if they deem themselves to be no longer working. unless of course it's in their contract to be available 24/7. In my situation, I have a smart phone from which I can recieve work emails. Although my office hours are 9-5, I have the phone on auto sync from 8am to 8pm. If I get an email it doesn't take long to look at it to see if it's urgent, if it isn't I ignore it, if it is I act on it. I also do 24hr support for 2 weeks out of 5, so I have to be available 24/7. But outside those weeks, out of hours work is not in my contract, and so it's my choice whether or not I decide to work on an issue.

quantumparticle@gmail.com
quantumparticle@gmail.com

I currently turn off my Blackberry about an hour after I leave work until an hour before I return. I am die-hard anti-blackberry, but its an occupational hazard. It does come in handy from time to time, but if I leave it on, I end up working up to 10 more hours per week by being available at people's whim. Most of the time when someone tries to contact me on my blackberry it could have waited until business hours.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

As an IT worker it is mandatory to request for roof access keys from building maintenance for troubleshooting the "wireless antenna". Quite the convenient and secluded spot for PDA's (and lunch!) in a pinch. But that's just some rumor I've heard of... :)

maecuff
maecuff

I don't want to see any PDAs here at work. What a nauseating thought..

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

You commented that this makes sense of a salesperson but in reality a salesperson, in Canada anyway, is NOT requried to work outside of normal office hours, even if behind. The only reason a sales rep would do that is to hit thier nimbers and keep their job. You can't fire a salesperson for not workign overtime or additional hours doing paperwork etc. I have worked many extra hours in sales, but that's often what it takes to succeed. I worked for one company that just expected you to work until 8 every night in order to hit thier goals, they settled out of court though. I don't mind working to hit my numbers but don't jack my numbers and epect me to work overtime, it aint gonna fly. Why should a sales rep or banker not fall under teh same labour laws as other employees? What makes a salesperson someone that should work more than an IT staff menber and not get paid for it?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I agree with your opinion, but in your boss' defense...I don't think being habitually late even by less than 5 minutes is acceptable at all even if you work late the night before. But then again that's how I was raised. If you can't get to work on time I don't think you should even bother going. I'm late from time to time myself, but I call in at least 30 minutes in advance letting them know I'm late.

DigitalFrog
DigitalFrog

Was a company that had a policy that if you were on holidays, you were on holidays. If something came up and the office had to call you for any reason, you immediately got another day of holiday time, while the person who called was required to fill out a report detailing why it was necessary to contact you.

Cyclops116
Cyclops116

It drives me nuts when people say ignorant things like "they get paid enough!" You never get paid enough to ignore your family or your own needs! Being on salary and getting paid more than the people you manage has nothing to do with the hours worked! It is because we take the responsibility on our shoulders. If the person under me messes up then I get blamed by those above me for letting it happen. My Ass is on the line not the people under me! Thats why managers get paid more. More responsibility more pay thats the way it has always worked. I've work as both a tech and a manager in several different industries and in other fields from a laborer to a superintendent of multiple construction sites. For a company or government agency to "expect" a salaried person to work after hours to do normal day to day work like "read and get ready policy and the rest of it" is illegal last time I checked. If a company REQUIRES an unreasonable amount of overtime to be worked or REQUIRE you to be at work on your normal days off(such as training on the weekend), they have to compensate the salaried employee in some way. Whether it be money or comp time, if the employee is too stupid to read labor law(specially in this industry since it's all online) shame on them. This does not mean that everytime someone on salary has to work an 18 hour day or gets a call after hours on their day off they should get paid but if I have to come in on the weekend for a hour or 2 to fix something or get a call in the middle of the night because someone can't connect to the VPN from Germany to California, thats the job we signed up for as techs. If the work load is so much that the manager is working at home every night or more than a one or two nights a week then there is something wrong! There needs to be a point when you say it's not going to happen there isn't enough time in the day unless we get help.

Notnerb
Notnerb

What a crock. Where do people get this stupid notion that just because you have a device available that you have to drop everything and use it? Unless you are explicitly 'on call' (eg doctors, support staff etc), then don't answer it. Seriously, do you think the world is going to stop if you aren't hanging on everyone's whim like some sort of lap dog? If you can't manage your own time, then don't complain when others manage it for you.

NaughtyMonkey
NaughtyMonkey

that even though I signed a contract which included 24/7 availability when I was hired, the VP over me decided that I was working too much overtime. She cut me a check for the overtime I worked since I started 2 years ago at time and a half my calculated 40 hr rate. Good timing too. My son was getting braces this week and now I had the money to pay up front with no strain.

kali_mst
kali_mst

Most providers Sprint/Verozon ect...Provide a free email account with your pda/smartphone. Sprint offers a free text message informing you when you get new mail. Their you go, the text message will show you subjuct of the new email, their it takes about 5 seconds to take a peek at your inbox when clocked-out. And truthfully replying to an email takes no time usually but more time consuming with a small pda keyboard. I think this issue will come up alot in the future, but techy peeps are looking for a reason for the not so savy tech people to understand all the extra work we do as technicians around newbies, we want to get paid for our time, If it takes a pda for this Im all for it.

hbartlett
hbartlett

A few months ago my after-hours work habits were such that as soon as the kids were in bed I was "online" (available via chat and reading and sending email) until about midnight, every night. I would go to sleep thinking about work, and wake up thinking about it, think about it in the shower, even read email on my phone while driving the kids to school (at stoplights I swear!). I was anxious all the time and not very pleasant to be around. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was my own fault. I wasn't on call. My job description said nothing about working 7am to midnight. I justified all the extra working with the notion that I was getting more done. I wasn't, and regardless there will always be more to do if you look for it. About the same time I decided to make a change, I read a very good article on lifehacker.com about reducing your email load (http://lifehacker.com/357666/how-to-stop-checking-email-on-the-evenings-and-weekends). Sounds crazy, but it works. For the past couple of months I only get online one night per week and only if I've scheduled something to do that can't be done during normal office hours. I only check email on my phone if I'm expecting a response to something important that is likely to come after hours (like from someone in a different timezone), and I avoid sending email outside my normal office hours (and instead use Jott to leave myself reminders for the next morning). I feel less stressed, and more productive, and definitely happier. My boss is probably lonelier, since he is inevitably online at all hours (and was frequently the reason I would be up until midnight, chatting about the business). But you know what? He's also calmer these days, perhaps because he doesn't have someone to reinforce his obsessing over the business. Sometimes when I get online at night he is actually signing off to go have dinner with his girlfriend, which has got to be healthier than working 24/7!

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

One place I worked at in 2000 I was the designated after hours contact for issues with the corporate Internet gateway, mainly because I was the closest to the office and the one with the best diagnostic skills. The odd thing about this was that I left there in Dec 2000 and still received the odd emergency call from the help desk until I offered to come in and fix the problem at $100 per hours. That was Dec 2004 and eight calls after I left - it seemed the corporate emergency contact list rarely got updated. At another job I left in disgusted circumstances and I got a constant stream of phone calls from the new boss who was the cause of my quitting and my replacement. About two weeks later, when the new boss rang me to come back to train his cousin who took over my job, he screamed blue murder when I said I'd happily attend to give him a week's training for $4,000. That was the last phone call I got from them. When one work insisted I carry a mobile phone for easy contact, I billed them time and a half, with a minimum of fifteen minutes per contact, for every out of hours phone call I got on it. The contacting units were billed for the call. The quickly dropped once they realised the convenience cost them budget dollars. So the whole issue comes down to what you'll take and how You handle it.

SaraVN
SaraVN

I didn't mean that bankers or sales people should work more, I meant that they often have more control over when they work and how much overtime than IT people do. What the President didn't understand was that IT has work that CAN'T be done within normal business hours. It was management's lack of understanding of what IT actually does. Plus...if a salesperson works longer hours, it should mean they are getting more sales, which means more commission... if IT works longer hours(at least at this company) they got nothing... and in the US I don't know of any law that gives us overtime or anything... I just think that if you are required to work outside of normal business hours, you should get some kind of compensation, whether it's through more flexible hours, comp hours, overtime pay, whatever, just some kind of recognition for giving your personal time to the company.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

We start "around 8'ish" is what I was told when I started here and asked for the hours. Technically our office opens at 8, people (including myself) wander in anywhere from 8:05 to 8:30, I usually call if I am later than 8:30 though, just so they can pass the message to my clients that call in. Traffic is unpredictable here,we have three to five bridges you may need to cross to get to work, for me it's just one but some cross three or more each way. With the 2010 Olympics coming up, there are construction dleays everywhere and it just takes longer some days than others. Leave earlier to give myself enough time you say? Not bloody likely, not unless you will pay me for the additional time I spend commuting. I give myself about 20-30 mins to get to work, if it takes longer than that so be it, that's already an extra hour a day I don't get paid for.

RFink
RFink

Does the computer care? No, it doesn't. Time is a just a arbitrary measurement anyways. The important thing is that the job gets done and plus or minus five minutes doesn't matter. Of course I'm talking about salaried employees. The rule I used was a simple but fair one, if five minutes at quitting time doesn't matter then five minutes are starting time doesn't matter either.

TechJunky
TechJunky

If you have ever been responsible for a system that requires 24 hours "up time", you may reconsider your response. I don't see a lot of IT techs sitting around hoping for a call (lap dog as you call it). Instead, I see a lot of IT techs who must sign contracts agreeing to round the clock coverage in case of system failure. Some "good" IT companies provide flex time or comp time to help work-life balance. However, many do not. I think that is what the former post was referring to. For some IT techs, if you are not 'on call', yet you get a service call, it is protocol to answer it. It is not 'A Crock' as you say...it is the reality of working in IT where you are responsible for keeping critical systems up and available. Perhaps, it provides a better visual for you when you consider being an IT person who supports phones, computers, etc. for hospitals. Very rarely can a company afford two techs for one system. Meaning a first and second shift tech. Typically, there is one tech who takes care of all problems related to that system, with few exceptions.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

1989 - the health authority I was working for needed a doctor on call every night and they had a lot of trouble with the doctors arguing over who was on call which night. I, the lowly clerk, resolved the whole issue. I bought a top line brand new mobile phone (this was they days when they look like small briefcases due to the large batteries involved) and that was the ONLY number to be called at night - if it went unanswered then the Head of the Authority was called and the person who failed to answer was unemployed by ten o'clock the next day. How did you know who was on call - simple, a roster was worked out and handed to people with their normal daytime contact info. When B had the phone for Monday night, they were responsible for getting it to C, who was on call Tuesday night, by 4.00 pm Tuesday, or B just inherited an extra night on call. You have the phone, you have the responsibility. After this was in place two weeks, we never had another issue with no one responding to emergency call out or an argument about who was on call that night. Simple solution to a simple problem.

shannon.cyborski
shannon.cyborski

It's a great point that nobody can "make" someone answer email after hours. The problem here is different office cultures. You can see more about this above in my post reply titled "Out of Range = the New Out of Office." The basic premise is, if your employer puts the pressure on, it gets very difficult to manage this issue. Further, if an employee is on a team of people where some of them make the choice to answer, then the one who doesn't make the choice to answer after hours email looks like the "bad guy" or a non-"team player." When I first started my current job, I saw immediately that everyone was leashed to their blackberry - to the point of having email notification on and checking the buzz while standing around the office. The first thing I did was turn mine off, and I got flack for it. I stuck to it, and eventually, attitudes became accustomed to that - but later as my position became more important, the demand for my availability got higher again. I still don't have email notification ON, but I tend to feel like I need to check email when out of the office or on weekends. At this point, it is my choice, I admit. In the beginning though, it was hard when I chose not to.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Usually though unless you work for the government you don't end up with an understanding authority figure over you. I have had maybe one job where my direct manager actually cared about his people. Of course he only respected you and treated you with dignity AFTER you got fed up with his stuff and had it out with him. I thought for sure I was fired one day after I totally lost it, cussed him every which way but loose and finally asked him to step outside if he didn't like what I had to say. The next day he apologized and gave me a raise. Not only that my yearly raises after that were higher percentages than my co-workers who just "took" his crap, lol.

royhayward
royhayward

"And truthfully replying to an email takes no time usually but more time consuming with a small pda keyboard." I don't think this is really the case. I spend more time than I like handling email in the office. And if I am interrupting a dinner with my wife or a discussion about grades and friends with my children to answer and email about server infrastructure, it is an imposition. Now I expect this in my career just as a doctor gets calls about patience at home. But people (management) needs to know that interrupting my out-of-office time has an impact on my life. Some companies pay an on call bonus or comp or whatever to offset the interruptions. Others let you track the page/call time and bank it towards comp time. One place I worked, when I was called on during vacations, they gave me days back for every day they called during. So after a couple of years, I had five weeks carrying over. Anyway, I don't want to make a big deal about it, but I have been expected to have my phone on 24/7/365, and I can do that if the management recognize in tangible ways the intangible that they are taking from me by that requirement.

fabiogilr
fabiogilr

That was happening to me as well.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...but it's totally different when you're an "employee" on salary who doesn't get to bill for incremental time usage. I do think that this is going to be a difficult issue for many; it's easy to argue that after-hours work is overtime, and that employers are going to push it as far as they can. But then again, if you as an employee start to push back at after-hours intrusions, there's always going to be some guy behind you who'd going to convince your boss that he's not going to complain about it.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I once had a job where the IT director was an older woman. I noticed that anyone who was hired happened to be an attractive male in their late 20's/early 30's. No typically geeky guys, just well dressed guys that were moderatel good looking (I'm guessing since I happen to like girls)that took care of themselves. Even the secretary fit the same description. It was always a bit strange once I figured that out. I even had a friend of mine (very attractive female) put in for a job, and she was promptly turned down and they hired the village idiot to take the postion. Being a guy it didn't bother me as much, but it did seem like discrimination. In regards to 50-60 hour weeks, I go out of my way to ensure my people are only required to work 40 hours mon-fri. A very big selling point when looking for quality employees. So, if I bust my butt keeping people from having to work overtime, I expect them to be there for the standard 40 hours on time. I listen to problems if people can't always make it and adjust accordingly...but I don't tolerate excuses.

SaraVN
SaraVN

I understand in your situation Forum Surfer, that being late habitually wouldn't be acceptable. Where I was at the time, didn't have anything that couldn't wait a few hours to be resolved, so 5-10 mins didn't make a difference. The most critical time was in the evening, which was why I was often dialed in until 1 am most nights. The only reason they wanted me there at that time was to "sit and look pretty" (they had major sexual discrimination problems) Also I had to carry a pager and get text messages on my phone so I saw what was going on in the system and would come in early if something was going on that needed my attention. Where I am now is much a different situation, and there are more critical operations that are dependent on me. So now I'm in anywhere from on-time to an hour or more early. (Most of the time it's 30 mins or more early). I still work 50-60 hours a week, but management understands that it is part of the job and gives me flexibility if I want to work from home, come in late, or leave early. Management's attitude makes all the difference.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

The state I live in is covered under "the right to work" bs. Typically you have better salaries in right to work states, but the attitude "if you don't like it you can leave" is often the bottom line. Suits me fine because that's my attitude anyway. I'm not one for whining. I do what I can to make a bad situation better, and if I can't I seek other employment. Life is too short to worry about crap you can't fix like an annoying manager who stands his ground too firmly and has unfair practices. Deal with it and move on. My manager at my last job hated me because I would let all my people fill out their day (often times 12 or more hours) as having worked second shift (as it paid more) with over time before and after their shift started. Everyone hated working long hours but that was a nice incentive that let me keep competent techs around and keep overall hours down. The overtime was nice but sooner or later everyone wanted to go home! He made me quit doing that and I lost my good help which stuck me with alot of newbies. That increased my work load and made me deal with alot of po'ed account teams. I couldn't fix it so I found something else and moved on.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Getting to work on time has always been a pet peeve of mine even though I'm pretty laid back. I've written people up for being late habitually. If they call in that's fine. But if someone shows up at 10 after every morning I will inform them that if they can't be here at 8 then don't bother coming for the day. What happens if I have an emergency to contend with out of the office or management wants a spur of the moment meeting (which is frequent in the morning)? Am I supposed to tell them to hold on because my staff doesn't show up until 8ish and I need someone to watch the shop? Alot of our customers involve EMS and law enforcement so I need people to be here when they say they will. Taking an extra 15 minutes at lunch? Fine...I don't care just tell me. Need to sneak out the back door 15 minutes early? Fine...just tell me. All I ask is to know when you're going to be at work and to start your day at the correct time. I have one guy that comes in 30 minutes early and leaves 30 minutes late half the week and vice versa the rest of the week. He explained he's a single parent and has trouble with his child's schedule and getting him to school, so we adjusted his work schedule to cope. I'd rather someone be honest and try to fix the situation. But coming in 10-15 minutes late evryday because you can't get out of bed or whatever just doesn't fly. Traffic isn't a problem here so you have no excuses outside of laziness for being habitually late.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

As I just explained that I 'get there when I get there'; I should also explain that with no sales manager, supervisor or anyone looking ove me, I spend a lot of time in teh evenings pondering projectsm working on graphics and presentation materials etc. that I don't bill for as it is by choice and for my own benefit. I don't have to, I choose to. So if I wander in at 8:30 or 9 instead of 8, nobody even bats an eye. If I take a 2 hr lunch, nobody cares, if I leave at 2 mobody cares. It is called being treated like an adult, we don't babtsit each other and can do our own jobs without needed each other. We just all do what we need to do and it gets done, eventually. I had one employer who wanted you to stay late everyday, docked you if you were 5 mins late and didn't pay you for any overtime. I mentioned that it was a breach of labour laws several times, they ignored it, so I kept a tight record and they coughed up the $10K to stay out of court when I left. I have to say that despite the crooked politicians we have up here, despite the cowtowing to Bush, our labour laws are great compared to most other countries. We get paid well, we get protected by the government and they always put laws in to protect the employee and not the employer.

RFink
RFink

In my first job as programmer I had a boss who insisted on being notified when I left the state (MI) for whatever reason. I told him that I doubted that was legal and his reply was "sue me". I was required to take my all of my vacation during the shutdown which I resented. I went to visit my family who lived in the UP of Michigan. Bear in mine I worked in Detroit so the trip was about 500 miles. During the two weeks there was a major outage and I was unavailable. When I returned my boss was upset. "Everyone else told me where they went, why didn't you?". I told him, "I didn't leave the state, that's why." He asked, "Where did you go?" I replied, "Kingsford". He asked, "Where's that". I took a map and showed him. Take I-75 north until you hit the big Mac, hang a left and go 200 miles on US-2. All within Michigan. We butted heads after that but I pointed out two things: 1. Live by the rule book, die by the rule book. You made the rules. It's not my fault you didn't know how big Michigan was. 2. You made me take my vacation time. X-( I have no guilt about the outage. Fortunately for me he left the account a month later. He was getting unbearable to work with. :)

jdclyde
jdclyde

Is exactly that. If it IS such a big deal that I punch in "right on time" then it MUST be equally important to punch out "right on time". It is a policy that moronic micromanagers get, and is most common among those that worked their way up the ranks from hourly and are now salary themselves. I currently work salary. As long as my average hours balance out it is all good. The handbook states that my hours are "The hours required to get the job done", and I knew that when I took the job. If there is something I have to do to a server that is major, I do it on the weekend, so I take friday off and work sunday when no one is here.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

We have the same roster of availability. Someone is always there to cover me. Yet still situations arise where they just want "me" since I have better inter-personal skills and more experience handling multi-vendor solutions we are sometimes requirred to have. Technically, there is someone around that can handle the task at hand in my absence, yet management prefers "me" as I have been told on many occasions. I'm not sure that I want someone that can do everything I can do on the same level...then I may become uneccessary one day, lol. In the event of a disaster I have sense enough to "just go" as I am part of our disaster recovery team, so that's a non issue and even if I'm "out of range" I know when a disaster is taking place.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

answer and the older IT mainframes computer rooms also had it. A roster for staff to work on site 24 / 7, someone is on duty at all times and only that person can be contacted by the company in general. They have a set of numbers for contacting higher management that are only to be used when the nuclear bombers are in the air type issues arrive. I once worked at one place and had the fun of ringing the CEO at 3.00 am in the morning to get him to ring through corporate credit card details for a charge to airfreight a part out of the USA to Australia asap - it was that or miss the flight and incur a 24 hour delay and a half a million dollar penalty fine. I got a bonus for taking the responsibility of disturbing his sleep, my predecessor got fired for NOT doing it when it was clearly needed. But all the people in the unit took turns manning the night shift, we did a seven day week on night shift about every two months.

dkoch
dkoch

The saving grace of the location of my home is that it is on top of a mountain, in the woods - ergo, out of range. My employer expected me to be available 24/7 (extra compensation - surely you jest). Their attitude was due to the "importance" of my job, I needed to be "available". My protestations that 50-60 hours a week in the office were enough fell on deaf ears. Recent developments at the office have prompted me to cut back to a 9-hour day and I am much happier for it - don't know if I can say the same for my employer. American business seems to have forgotten that their employees have lives, usually completely unrelated to the business. This trend toward 24/7 availability is obsessive, and the last time I checked obsession was considered an illness. Sadly, I don?t expect it to change any time soon. Business is all about profit and market share and a choir of psychologists singing the folly of all-work-no-play is likely to fall on deaf ears.

shannon.cyborski
shannon.cyborski

What's great about having active hobbies that take you out of range is having that added "edge" when it comes to supporting your personal unavailability. The PDA after hours issue is much like the old (and still current) "Can you stay late?" issue. If an employer asks an employee to stay and work late, and the employee says that he/she has a Dr. Appointment and cannot, the response is going to be much more positive and accepting than if the employee says that he/she has a family birthday party or other important social event to attend. Both events are equally important to the employee, but they are not equally important in the eyes of the employer. It has been my experience that with most companies, the pressure to give up personal plans is much higher than when it's something that seems "more important" to the employer's discretion. So with regard to PDA use, we can draw parallels to this scenario with regard to cell availability. If an employee is regularly out of range, the reason for being unavailable after hours may somehow be deemed "more acceptable." On the other hand, depending on office culture, I can see how the pressure may continue to side with the discretion of the employer as to how important someone's "personal" life is. Case in point: My boss, an IT manager reporting to an IT executive, went on vacation out of range for a week. It was the first time in 14 years of IT employment with various companies (3 years with this one) that he did not respond to a single e-mail while on vacation. His boss actually chided him for it. With complete understanding of the importance that the I.T. world has taken in business, I have to say also that these trends are really unacceptable. We are working more and more with less and less compensation and time to actually enjoy the things in life that we can afford because we have these jobs. What if compensation is not the answer though? What if the answer is to find other ways of solving issues after hours such that the after-hour work load is either more dissipated across several workers, or handled on a more automated level? What if the answer is simply to change the attitude of our culture? One of my favorite questions to daily interruptions is, "Do you really need to know that, RIGHT NOW?" Life is not an emergency, and something that may seem urgent to another, may not be urgent to the big picture.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

My hobbies sometimes put me in places where there is no cell phone or pager coverage. Once you go several miles out in the ocean, you cannot get any sort of phone communications unless you have a satellite phone. I need to know when I am expected to be on call in my contract or in writing of some sort. My job doesn't dictate what I do in off hours. Not only that, I'm single, I have a varied assortment of active hobbies and I have a business I tend to on the side, so I don't have time to deal with work if I'm not being compensated for it or required by contract to do it. I simply have better things to do than respond to an email...or even read it for that matter if I'm not on call and getting compenstation. Even asking me to take the time to read an email isn't worth my 10 seconds wasted...although admittedly I do communicate alot after hours if I am involved in a multi-vendor major project such as infrastructure for new facilities or retrofits. I spend 2 out of 5 weeks on call 24/7 and I adjust my life accordingly during those weeks. On my off weekends sometimes you won't find me without the coast guard's assistance, lol.

jesse_house
jesse_house

This has been a sensitive subject for me for quite some time. There are times when I do not want anything to do with my phone/email/etc. I want to be freed from the attachment so that I can vigorously pursue other activites that I am passionate about. While it only takes a few moments to send an email, the interruption throws you off track and often adds stress (which I understand is a personal problem). Additionally, you are now regarded as a slacker if you aren't available and if you miss the schedule change that came via email @ 2 AM. Somtimes increased availability leads to increased variability in the form of others not sticking to their committments. They figure that if everyone can always be reached, then things can always be shuffled around endlessly. I think back to a time when , although we had fewer options for quick communication, we often held that communication in high regard and made every effort to have it be clear and straightforward.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...that people don't respect you until they recognize an attached cost. The demand for things that are free is nearly infinite.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

but the kicker for the first two is I never got any calls until AFTER I left their employment. the nerve calling up at night and weekends for help when I no longer work there. In the third case I was on hourly as an office expert doing day shift hours only. But as the resident expert I had to deal with various issues whenever they arrived. The real change I instituted into the system was to on charge the cost of dealing with the out of hours calls to the unit initiating the call, instead of absorbing it as an overhead within my unit. I did this as the majority of the calls were for matters that could easily wait until the next morning as they weren't urgent, just got noticed at this time. Any real urgent items weren't on charged, but absorbed. But on charging the minor stuff that could wait cut the calls back by 98%.