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Old 30.01.2016, 17:45
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On call during vacation without pay

So I am planning to go on a skiing holiday in a week's time, and my boss has asked me to leave my private phone number for emergencies.

For background, I am working in a biosciences company as an expert, but not as a manager. Most of my responsibilities are working on projects, and I have been working my ass off before the vacation to be ahead of schedule so that none of the other project team members would be blocked by my absence. I am responsible for some active systems, and for each of them I have arranged a deputy, whom I have provided with detailed documentation as well as hands-on demonstrations. Also, I have confirmed with clients that no mission-critical use of these systems is expected during my holiday. I am supervising a couple of students, and I have made sure that they have plenty of tasks in my absence, as well as an alternative senior person from whom to ask help, if necessary.

Now, I cannot imagine anything less relaxing on a holiday than to wait for a phone to ring - even if it never would. Most colleagues on my level, or on that above me, check their emails a couple of times during their holidays to make sure there are no emergencies, and this is what I had planned to do as well out of courtesy. Some colleagues on my level, or the one above, leave an out-of-office email where they make it crystal clear that they are not available during the vacation, period. In my previous life, I have worked in tasks where I was on stand-by during the weekends, but it was compensated by payment, and this is not the situation here. So I am quite shocked that my boss would even ask for such a thing.

What I am asking is - where do I stand (1) legally, and (2) Swiss-work-ethically, if I refuse to give my private phone number?
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Old 30.01.2016, 17:48
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

From my experience: if you refuse it could be bye bye to any future promotion.

I personally have had this several times, but then I also check my emails a couple of times and have a company phone. I have never asked this from an employee who did not have a company phone.

Best to have a chat with your supervisor and ask him/her why? Maybe a number where you can be reached (hotel?) could be sufficient so you can call back if it is really urgent?
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Old 30.01.2016, 17:49
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

Leave your number. Turn your phone off (or to silent) when you're out.
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Old 30.01.2016, 17:52
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

Common thing in smaller companies.
And illegal, of course.
Your boss would like to have the same "peace of mind" you get from not being reachable - only he gets it by you being reachable in a case of emergency.

This one won't go away. You have to discuss it with your boss and everybody has to be open about what they think and want.
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Old 30.01.2016, 17:53
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

Its not as though it will be that hard or inconvenience you. Just comply
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Old 30.01.2016, 18:07
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

If I'm not paid, I'm not obliged to be in phone coverage or answer my phone. However, as a matter of maintaining goodwill, why not?

There's no reason for you to be waiting for the phone to ring. You're not expecting any emergencies. You're not on call - your boss just wants to be able to contact you if it all goes horribly wrong. It will only spoil your holiday if you let it.

Talk to your boss and clarify that if you get a call and it ends up with you actually having to do something substantive, that you will be paid or otherwise receive compensation.
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Old 30.01.2016, 18:21
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

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From my experience: if you refuse it could be bye bye to any future promotion.
This much is clear. What I am seeking to understand is whether my boss is clueless enough not to understand that the standard way of making an irreplaceable employee available outside business hours is to give them the company phone, or whether this is an act of power play in preparation of any future position/salary negotiations - "there's no way we would promote an employee who isn't even committed enough to answer business calls on private time (and paying the incurred roaming fees)".
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Old 30.01.2016, 18:49
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

I appreciate all opinions presented above, but the point is that no such requests are made to other colleagues on the same or +1 paygrade in the company to my best knowledge. So I'm really not asking "what would you do?" per se. Instead, I'm asking "is this a common practice in Swiss companies where you have worked?"
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Old 30.01.2016, 18:50
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

Well, it only means your boss needs you that much. I would push for promotion since it seems you very much can.

Say yes, with a victorious smile, leave your cell on, put it in a draw of your night stand. If they call, answer when you get a min - and bill them for roaming charges.

Next time you go somewhere, you have a decent reason to ask for a company phone, at least for hol period.

Legally, I don't think it's worth investigating, considering the local labor laws. Investigate only if you have a suspition they might mess up when you are gone. Ask relevant questions by email and list who is responsible for specific tasks in your absence.
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Old 30.01.2016, 19:52
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

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...I'm asking "is this a common practice in Swiss companies where you have worked?"
No, it has not been.
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Old 30.01.2016, 20:06
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

If you are planning to read emails anyway for emergencies, whats the big deal about your phone ringing if indeed there was an emergency? I would rather prefer that someone calls if there is an emergency than me having to worry about checking emails everyday on vacation.

Move on. There is practically no difference between emails and phone in terms of stress generated. This is accepted practice, in Financial Services, unless you are really junior.
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Old 30.01.2016, 21:45
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

My husband used to work for a small 100 employee company and they did and demanded of their employees all kinds of things like this & even worse. Their attitude was, you don't like it, you can leave.
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Old 30.01.2016, 22:16
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

1. Leave your number to be reached just in case.
2. Go and enjoy the skiing.
3. Come back and reply to your boss, only if he tried to contact you.
4. Go skiing again and enjoy it even more.
5. Tell him you couldn't get his last call because the battery was flat.
6. Batteries are bound go flat in freezing conditions, especially in winter.
7. It is not employee's fault that the battery's gone flat.

Blame it all on technology while enjoying some time off from work
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Old 31.01.2016, 00:36
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

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There is practically no difference between emails and phone in terms of stress generated. This is accepted practice, in Financial Services, unless you are really junior.
Ahem, I'll be the judge of which stresses me more, a phone call or an email. I read the emails when I choose to, but the phone rings when my boss chooses it to. Also, I will ask around about the practices in financial services, if I ever start working in that line of work.

Last edited by Muuvaara; 31.01.2016 at 00:52.
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Old 31.01.2016, 01:19
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

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If you are planning to read emails anyway for emergencies, whats the big deal about your phone ringing if indeed there was an emergency? I would rather prefer that someone calls if there is an emergency than me having to worry about checking emails everyday on vacation.

Move on. There is practically no difference between emails and phone in terms of stress generated. This is accepted practice, in Financial Services, unless you are really junior.
Plus one. If people want to contact me outside normal business hours/when I am not on duty, for real emergencies, they call my cell phone. I only sporadically check my emails when not on duty. If I cannot/do not want to answer, I call back when I can/I am available. This has only happened a handful of time in several years in my profession, by the way.

Once my (former) Swiss boss famously called my cell phone while I was at the hospital waiting to do some checkups before a quite significant surgery. I had left instructions, documents, etc...the client still wanted to talk to ME only. Boss felt horrible, I could tell, and yet, he still called. Customer is always right, I guess. I don't hold it against him, nor however I freak out at the thought that someone, somewhere, might call me when I am out.

I always tell the people who work with me" "If you call me when I am off duty, I cannot vouch for the quality of the advice/opinion you're gonna get"
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Old 31.01.2016, 07:17
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

Why are you getting so huffy? You asked:
Quote:
What I am asking is - where do I stand (1) legally, and (2) Swiss-work-ethically, if I refuse to give my private phone number?
People have answered that question, and this being a discussion forum, have started discussing the wider issues.

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... but the phone rings when my boss chooses it to. ...
Not a problem. Set your phone so that boss's personal ring tone is silent. Bingo - you're back in control. If you make this molehill any bigger, soon you'll be able to take your ski vacation there.
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Old 31.01.2016, 08:46
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

I knew someone who was getting married, on her wedding day her boss called & foolishly she answered it. That call ran to 30 minutes.

Last edited by fatmanfilms; 31.01.2016 at 09:38.
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Old 31.01.2016, 09:20
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

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I thew someone who was getting married, on her wedding day her boss called & foolishly she answered it. That call ran to 30 minutes.
That wasn't a very nice thing to do to her on her wedding day fatmanfilms. Kiss the bride yes, but don't throw her.
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Old 31.01.2016, 09:38
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

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That wasn't a very nice thing to do to her on her wedding day fatmanfilms. Kiss the bride yes, but don't throw her.
Bloody spell correct
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Old 31.01.2016, 09:57
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Re: On call during vacation without pay

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People have answered that question, and this being a discussion forum, have started discussing the wider issues.
I'm all for a good discussion on any topic, but anybody who discusses my feelings and my situation should be prepared for me discussing right back at them. For your convenience, I am pasting below the original message I was referring to:

DUTCH:
"If you are planning to read emails anyway for emergencies, whats the big deal about your phone ringing..."

For clarity - I am not necessarily seeking to avoid work, but I am seeking to understand whether the requests made to me are in line with my field, position and compensation (since my understanding is this is not the case in my own company). If I would be working in e.g. finances on tasks that are intellectually as demanding as those in my current job as a scientist, I would not be surprised about being asked to leave a number, but I would also expect to get paid a salary twice as high.
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