Hope this isn't off topic but do any of you provide 24/7 cover with a colleague and how much would you expect to be paid? Say once every 3 weeks or possibly every other week? 6K+ per year?

Would be covering windows server/SQL/AD/Comms(Data and Voice)

My own work is thinking of asking us to do this and I'm not sure whats appropriate to go in at.

Any help much appreciated!


CLOSED ISSUE/UPDATE: Sorry I never replied earlier guys, I'm in the UK so pounds, and I really don't have a clue - I thought maybe a percentage of annual salary(that could apply worldwide?) anyway THANK YOU to all who replied its very much appreciated!

closed as too localized by user27296, Mark Henderson, radius, John Gardeniers, Zypher Aug 19 '10 at 19:59

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  • 3
    Whatever you come up with. DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT. You are significantly altering your free time. You'll be amazed at how quickly 24/7 becomes not worth it no matter the price. Factor in a wife and 4 children and your free time is priceless (at least for me). – GregD Aug 19 '10 at 13:34
  • I'd be curious to know where a three week payment interval is practiced. Or do you mean that's how often the on-call duty would occur? Also 6K what per year? Dollars, Pounds, Euros? – Dennis Williamson Aug 19 '10 at 14:23
  • 3
    More subjects like this should be covered on SF, as career management directly relates the professional. I don't believe it should be closed. – Warner Aug 19 '10 at 17:09
  • This really boils down to a question you can ask yourself..."How much is my free time worth?" – GregD Aug 19 '10 at 18:37
  • @Warner - Can't agree in this specific case - pay figures are subjective and localised. The generic topic of 'Would you consider working 24/7 cover' might be interesting, but it'd be a pretty vague discussion and more opinion than information. – Chris Thorpe Aug 20 '10 at 5:58

A lot depends on how much your employer is willing to pay you. In some countries there may be laws constraining this.

In the UK for instance, the EU working time directive applies and is applicable to on-call periods. However this addresses the amount of hours worked, also a lot of employers (unofficaly) require employees to sign waivers of their rights - AFAIK this practice, though seemingly widespread has not been tested in court. Also in the UK, there is a legally enforcable minimum wage - but you'd need to do some research on whether this is applicable to on-call periods.

Note even if you are not in the EU, then I would still recommend reading the document linked above - and using it in support of your position.

For more reputable employers, the common practice is that:

  1. on-call periods are voluntary
  2. a retainer is payable for the on-call period
  3. additional payments (usually at a higher than standard rate) are payable when a callout is triggered (sometimes there is a minimum threshold, then payable on the basis of the number of periods worked)

Certainly you need to be well-informed about the legal constraints, and I would recommend if you are negotiating for work and conditions for on-call support that you discuss travel-time and recovery periods.


  • I add that in some countries if it's not in the contract between employer and employee, you can't request employee to be on call if they don't want. – radius Aug 19 '10 at 11:52

This question is a bit off-topic, but I'll give it an answer anyway.

This is something that is being implemented for a client at my work. Here is what I am negotiating for with my employer:

  • A base pay rate to compensate for being "On Call". When you're on call you've gotta make sure you're in mobile range, have your phone on you at all times, have easy access to what you need to do your job (computer, internet, etc), and most importantly, be fit to do your job (so no getting trashed)
  • Be paid in increments for the actual out-of-hours work I have to do. In Australia, if a doctor works for > 15 minutes, they can charge for an hour. That might seem excessive to your employer, but wiggle it around. If you're working for between 10 and 30 minutes, then you can charge for a full 30 minutes, even if you only worked for 11 (btw, this is how doctors pay for their nice cars, they spend min time+1 minute on the phone, then get the other person to go away for 10 minutes and call them back. Repeat and rinse two to three times a night.)
  • Have my on-call schedule well in advance so I can organise social events, etc, around the schedule

As far as applying a dollar value to that, there's no way we can answer that question for you, it depends on your seniority, technical expertise, how much work you expect to do, severity of the work you'll have to do, etc.

  • +1 s/doctors/lawyers/ Billing in time increments with a required minimum is not uncommon in lots of consulting fields -- in the US at least. – jscott Aug 19 '10 at 10:23
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    And the pay rate is obviously going to vary depending on where you are. The only constant: It never seems quite enough. – John Gardeniers Aug 19 '10 at 10:24

The long answer is that it depends on the client and their expectations, the type of problems that are likely to need 24/7 attention, and what level of service and response time the client wants.

The short answer is £50 per day on call, £50 per call, then your normal chargeable rate for any time you spend responding. Double time on weekends and holidays.


Your price for providing 24/7 coverage should be markedly higher than the CapEx costs of building the infrastructure properly for the availability the business requires.

If they can't afford to "build it right" then their business model is flawed - Either they don't need the availability they think they do, or their revenue is too low to support their operations.

So if they can't afford well-built systems, but they can afford to drag your sorry carcass out of bed at 03:17, they will wake you up Every. Single. Time. AND they will never fix the underlying cause of the fault. Why? Because you woke up and took care of it for them, the cheapest possible way of avoiding the pain - for everybody involved except you.

I've burned out of several jobs like this in the non-profit and startup sectors... and I wouldn't do it again for anything less than a butler to carry my pager, laptop and sat-phone, and a chartered Gulfstream when I needed to fly back to the office from by beach-front cabana. And even then I'd think long and hard about taking the gig.


My opinion is that it depends on whether you're a salaried or an hourly employee, whether or not there are any applicable laws regarding on call or overtime pay in your state\country, what are the terms of your employment contract, etc., etc.

My situation is that I'm expected to be available 24/7 as part of my job. My salary is structured such that I'm compensated highly enough that there is no additional pay for actually responding to after normal hours events, that is factored in to my salary. While it's true that I have more responsibility and work more hours than the other employees, it's also true that my compensation is much higher than those other employees.

My suggestion would be to consider this carefully and approach it delicately. You may create an adversarial situation between you and your employer: you think you should be compensated and they think it's part of the job. This may create a position that is untenable from either or both sides. If you're met with resistance then discuss with your employer how the two of you can find some middle ground, possibly by factoring this after hours work into your next salary increase.


I'd assume salaried, as hourly work in IT isn't well structured for this. If hourly, the overtime and rates would not vary from your normal pay usually unless billed externally.

If rotating, an appropriate stipend considering the average likely amount of time spent with the additional responsibilities outside of business hours. This would be paid during the pay-period in which you were on call.

Actual dollar amounts will be particular to your exact situation and what is fair for the responsibilities.


Whatever pay amount is eventually agreed upon, ensure the following: -When the time begins. I once had an employer demand that I visit a client's site which was three hours away, to do extended offline maintenance during a weekend. It ended up being 14 hours of work, so 20 hours of driving and work. They did not want to pay for the travel; they felt that travel time didn't count... -What they pay for. Meals, if the overtime has exceeded a certain amount of time (say, 3 hours, crosses a standard meal-time, etc.) Also ensure that they'll pay for a meal that you get called away from. Anniversary dinner out and you get paged? -Cover and/or subsidize your internet and cell phone bill. -Travel expenses.


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