Introduction to this document

On-call work clause

If you have workers who are required to be on call (usually overnight and at weekends to deal with workplace emergencies), use our on-call work clause to set out the contractual position, what’s expected of the employee when on call and what payment they’ll receive.

Voluntary or contractual?

Sometimes, on-call rotas are voluntary and people volunteer because of the extra money they’ll earn, but at other times it’s a contractual obligation to participate in on-call duties. In the latter case, you need the contractual right to require an employee to work over and above their contracted hours and in both cases you should set out in writing what you expect from the employee when they’re on call and the payment they will receive for undertaking on-call duties. Also, don’t forget that details of pay rates and any terms relating to working hours must be included in the employee’s written statement of employment particulars.

Expected behaviour

Our On-Call Work Clause makes it clear that whilst the employee doesn’t need to be on your premises when they’re on call, they do have to comply with a few ground rules, i.e. they have to:

 comply with your company rules as if they were at work in the normal way - this would cover issues such as consuming alcohol and drugs, etc.

 be contactable at all times via a mobile or home telephone - consider here whether you want to provide a specific company mobile for the purpose

 remain within reasonable travelling distance of their place of work. If the on-call work could be urgent, you could also specify a maximum travelling distance

 be ready, willing and able to respond to a call to attend work.

Working time and pay

Time spent on call away from the workplace isn’t working time for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998, except of course in relation to the time when the employee is actually responding to a call out. As far as payment is concerned, our clause covers both payment for time spent waiting on call and time when the employee is called out. It’s normal for the employee to be paid an amount for the time they spend on call, whether or not they are called out to work. They will then be paid a (usually) higher sum for actual call-outs. It’s up to you to set the payments here but national minimum wage (NMW) compliance may need to be checked if the employee is low paid. Clearly, the employee has to be paid at least the NMW for time spent when they are called out to work, as that’s obviously working time. As for the on-call time itself, whilst on-call time away from your premises doesn’t generally have to be payable at NMW rates, it can depend on whether the employee can be said to be properly “working” during the on-call period.