back to article Two Sundays wrecked by boss who couldn't use a calendar

Thank Bibulous it's Friday, because I can write this and go home. And you can read it and revel in another episode of On-Call, our end-of-week amusement-inducer in which we revisit readers' remembrances of things thankfully past. This week, reader Murray told us about a gig in which his employer ran its own data centre. And …

  1. Tom 7 Silver badge

    At least make sure your contract include TOIL

    I dont mind the odd bit of out of hours but being expected to work for free seems to be a bit too common these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

      When it comes to work there is one unbreakable rule

      NEVER work for free

      Don't get paid overtime, don't do it. Why the hell was he even on-call if he knew he wasn't going to be paid?

      1. John Crisp

        Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

        "When it comes to work there is one unbreakable rule

        NEVER work for free"

        Try telling my boss that.

        Divorce would undoubtedly follow.

        Now there's a thought........

        :-)

    2. hplasm
      Headmaster

      Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

      To be accurate- it doesn't say he wasn't paid, but he wasn't paid Extra for the overtime.

      ie The US model...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

        >To be accurate- it doesn't say he wasn't paid, but he wasn't paid Extra for the overtime.

        Maybe you interpret this differently "and, worst of all, his contract didn't include overtime"

        1. hplasm
          Meh

          Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

          Maybe you interpret this differently "and, worst of all, his contract didn't include overtime"

          Indeed- it also didn't say that he worked on weekends for nothing.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

        "ie The US model..."

        Aka the "like hell I'm doing that" model. ANY job I'm offered, there has to be a provision for OT or TOIL for any work ourside contracted weekly hours - it's the only dealkiller for any offer.

        Without that, a "Can you just hang on an hour?" quickly turns into "You're ok to give up your saturday arent you?" and you have no recourse because it's "in your contract".

        OT/TOIL is (imo) the best protection from the situation above. Questions would be raised abut the boss who had to sign off on 16+ hours OT at 2x that were mostly unnecessary.

      3. glen waverley

        Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

        Or what we in Oz call penalty rates. IE saturday morning = time and a half or 1.5X, Saturday arve and Sunday = double time or 2X.

        TOIL is a swiz as you never seem to be able to schedule the time off in lieu.

        I suspect the US model might be ordinary time. Pls don.t tell me its free as in "we expect commitment"

        1. Chris Griffiths

          Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

          From my (admittedly limited) exposure, the entire US model is basically "we expect commitment".

          Cant do this last-minute shift-change on Friday? Don't bother coming in Monday!

          Say what you like about the UK, at least our employment law does something to protect employees (as in, you cant be fired on the spot and find yourself instantly out of a job)

          1. Richard 81

            Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

            "Say what you like about the UK, at least our employment law does something to protect employees"

            You just wait.

            1. Daz555

              Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

              That will be EU employment law....wait until the Tories get free reign to tear it up all the name of "helping business prosper". It will not be pretty.

          2. tfewster Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

            > Cant do this last-minute shift-change on Friday? Don't bother coming in Monday!

            Woo-hoo! Four-day weekend! <Homer Simpson ------------------------->

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

            >From my (admittedly limited) exposure, the entire US model is basically "we expect commitment".

            And it took me nearly 15 years in my current career but I found the only company that has earned my commitment to come in on a Sunday due to problems without a second thought. Of course to do so they hired me as salaried employee with a the highest consistent salary of my career (well above market), best benefits ever had including very generous stock options. They also have never laid off anyone but contractors or employees of companies purchased in two decades (during great recession company asked everyone to take temporary salary reductions instead and paid back several times over after the recession ended with special bonus) and made money every quarter for a very long time. As well they let me work from home when I really need it for family etc with no hassle. Dying breed is this company but they should last until I retire which is how long I plan to work for them. When they ask for things I tend to answer yes without much thought and I have tended to be more of a malcontent in the past.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

          The thing is that overtime, time off in lieu and even just plain "additional hours" are all on the way out, even in the UK. The days when weekend or bank holiday working (scheduled or otherwise) automatically attracted a 1.25x / 1.5x / 2x multiplier, or a flat-rate premium payment are numbered, except for those very few people who are so vital to a company's business that they can basically set their own pay rates and conditions.

          My very first proper job <ahem> years ago had the "...and other hours to suit the company" clause in the contract, and expected me to share a pager (with my boss, so guess who got it 75% of the time?), come in at all hours and man the department when sleep-deprived. TOIL was theoretically available, but very difficult to schedule and officially expired after (IIRC) the second month (i.e. as little as 5 weeks).

          My current employers (hence AC) have just removed weekend premium payments from all previously eligible staff. There was a "buy out" of some description, but although the deal was ok-ish for lower grades, higher grades had a much less generous offer, and a 0% basic pay rise for the third or fourth year in a row. The thing is that weekend working is required, and rota'd, and if you make a fuss there is always someone looking for work who is perfectly willing to do the job for less money.

          Now, I'll grant that I now work in the public sector where belts are being severely tightened but this is not new and not confined to the public sector.

          It's coming, believe me...

          1. wikkity

            Re: It's coming, believe me...

            If that's the case one thing that won't be coming is me, into the office at the weekend.

          2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

            "...and other hours to suit the company"

            This can work both ways, if your boss is human. After the first weekend, when the boss sheepishly mentioned he screwed up the dates, that was Murray's cue to gently chide him about planning, or lack of it, and its consequent effect on Murray's time off..

            The second weekend, when he came in, again unpaid, to do the boss a favor, well, that's when it's time for a little heart-to-heart with the boss. As in, "I've been in here for two weekends running, and both have been unnecessary interruptions to my time weekends. I think I'm feeling sick, and I won't be in for the rest of the week."

            If the boss is a jerk about it, maybe it's time to look for a new boss. A human boss will understand and sign off on the sick days.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

              My Current Firm only pay overtime for staff on less that £28k, for some reason. Everyone else gets TOIL but is expected to dedeicate themselves to the company mind, body and soul. This blurs the lines between "working late to get something done" and "fuck me, i had to get up at 4AM to drive 'oop north' and didn't get home until 9PMN the next day"

              Out of hours work entices a 10% uplift in salary just for being on the rota and a flat fee per call-out, plus TOIL. However this is rarely cashed in as we are too busy to catch up with this.

              I think i am currently owed about 3 months TOIL if i added it all up, but that would be really penny pinching.

              1. Mark 85 Silver badge

                Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

                Everyone else gets TOIL but is expected to dedeicate themselves to the company mind, body and soul.

                This is very common in the States. Certain job classifications it's "you're ours 24/7". However, this loyalty/work ethic only goes one way and doesn't apply to them. Firings happen at the drop of a hat for almost any reason. Yes, they may pay straight hours (no OT add-on) for extra time, but that's about it. Look to places like Google where employees practically live in the office (or so the rumors go).

                1. mhoulden

                  Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

                  Those free gyms, laundrettes, breakfasts, etc aren't there just to be nice. Breakfast makes sure you're in early and the health and wellbeing stuff is supposed to reduce the number of unproductive sick days. Other things keep you at your desk so you work longer.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

                    Shame that I don't use these items or offers as they do not replace the worth of money in my life, nor time.

                    Bribing me with a gym is not going to work, as it is wrong to expect me to use it, it is tantamount to bribery, it is almost coercion.

                    In short, a gift you don't need or want is not a gift but a mistake.

                    1. Kiwi
                      Headmaster

                      Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

                      ...it is tantamount to bribery...

                      Just out of interest, what would you call the practice of giving people money to do something they otherwise would be quite unwilling to do?

                      You know, like giving them money to go into your business at times you specify and produce goods or services you also specify. Wouldn't that be tantamount to bribery?

                      (toss up between grammar nazi or joke alert icon...)

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

                "I think i am currently owed about 3 months TOIL if i added it all up, but that would be really penny pinching."

                3 months worth of unpaid overtime and you call that penny pinching? You must be on a whacking great salary or your boss has some bloody good blackmail material on you!

            2. GrumpyOldMan

              Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

              Commitment works both ways. I'd expect a boss to be committed to his staff and the company to be committed to their staff as much as the other way round.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

          "TOIL is a swiz as you never seem to be able to schedule the time off in lieu."

          A relative ran into this one working for local govt.

          . She ended up taking legal advice and got 3 months accumulated TOIL off (she would have preferred the monry up front but $employer wouldn't do that. Shortly after returning, she and the entire city secretariat(*) resigned en masse and subsequently won a very large settlement for constructive dismissal.

          (*) City secretaries are "keeper of secrets" type employees, not the typing pool. When 25+ of them all leave at once due to to the actions of the city manager you can rest assured the organisation has major problems. By all accounts there have been mass resignations in other departments since then.

    3. AceRimmer1980
      Thumb Down

      Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

      Every - but *every* - gig I've had since leaving uni has had some kind of clause such as 'These are your contracted hours. You may be required to perform duties outside of these hours. This will be unpaid, and with no TOIL.'

      You only learn this on the day you start, after you may have already gone to the expense of moving to another town etc. You sign it, or you don't get paid.

      Also: 'Any work you do is ours. This includes work done outside the office, in your own time, and on your own equipment.'

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

        This sounds horribly familiar from a few years back during one of the downturns, when our paid overtime got cancelled and replaced with TOIL.

        Unfortunately even though it was a financial downturn, we still had plenty of work to actually do. And the management got rather upset when I asked them to increase the 300 hour TOIL limit as I'd max'd out, especially when I pointed out we hadn't got any time to take any of it, and that if I just took it all alongside my normal holiday and bank holiday entitlement, I'd come back in February (this was said in September).

        Worked out quite nicely, with a couple of months worth of hours getting paid off conveniently close to Christmas...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

        I've always tried to avoid doing on-call if I could as in my experience employers always put draconian rules on what they expected of the on-call person - basically you will answer the phone and you will be online within 5 minutes etc that meant that you had much of the inconvenience of being at work whilst being paid a pittance to do it. I wonder how it fits in with minimum wage legislation (hmm what does google say...)?

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

          answer the phone and you will be online within 5 minutes etc

          In the days before mass mobile phones I worked for a radio station which was based in a city centre. I was expected to fix anything and everything vaguely "technical" (and a lot more besides) on premises, at any hour of the day or night yet I was almost the lowest-paid employee, just above the cleaner and the "roadie". I couldn't afford a mobile 'phone, but had to be within ten minutes of a phone whenever on call (which sort of ruined dog walks) and within 45 minutes of the radio station which was tight, considering how far out of town I had to live in order to afford a place on my salary.

          On the whole however, I did enjoy the job. Call-outs weren't all that often and my boss was a bit of a hoot. The worst part was some (by no means all) of the "on air" talent, who would get all shirty if you didn't ring in as soon as they'd put the phone down to the pager company, and who often refused to perform simple remedial tasks which would have sorted the problem - even if only temporarily - and enabled them to get on with things while I travelled in to sort out the root cause.

          Most common was refusing to switch to the "spare" studio despite failing equipment making working in the "main" studio very difficult. The studios were within about three or four footsteps of each other, but the swap-over procedure involved an "offer, accept, release" procedure that was easy with two people, but meant moving a couple of times between studios if there was no-one else available. Their biggest complaint however was "but it means putting all my records back in my boxes and moving them!"

          Made a point once. A couple of years into the job I had had a bit of a salary increase and managed to save up enough for a mobile phone. One weekend I was up a local mountain with the dog and my parents when the pager went off. The problem was easily worked-around by moving a pair of jack plugs in the patch panel just behind where the presenter in question was sitting, but he flat out refused to do so, so I bundled mum and dad and the dog into the car, trundled down to the studio, and took the dog in with me, who proceded to snuffle around the presenter's legs while I swapped the jacks, fixed the root cause (which could easily have been left until Monday) and swapped the jacks back.

          Didn't seem to bother the presenter...

          ...and as for the number of times I was called in for the likes of "yes, the printer is definitely 'on line'"...

          When I left the company (to do a post-grad course on something unrelated) they didn't replace me. My boss left soon afterwards, and they found getting a replacement very difficult. For several months I found myself on a "retainer" to the radio station which was only a little lower than my original salary, with call-outs on top at twice my previous hourly rate. They'll only pay what you are worth when they realise what you are worth.

          M.

          Oh, and my replacement lasted a year, after which the radio station moved premises (so all new kit) and did away with technical staff altogether, coming to a call-out-only arrangement with another radio station some 60 minutes drive away, though as the record players and cart machines were gone as were most of the CD players, with networked computers playing out most content, a lot of fixing could now be done on-line. Nobody is irreplaceable.

      3. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

        Also: 'Any work you do is ours. This includes work done outside the office, in your own time, and on your own equipment.'

        I think this one could be difficult to enforce. What you do on your own time on your own equipment has sweet FA to do with the company.

      4. Allan George Dyer

        Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

        "Also: 'Any work you do is ours. This includes work done outside the office, in your own time, and on your own equipment.'"

        So, if I rob a bank at the weekend, the Directors go to jail? Are you sure you want that clause?

      5. getHandle

        Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

        The "Any work you do is ours" clause is easily avoided by having a "very productive" weekend right after you quit!

      6. OliP

        Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

        have you ever asked for these clauses to be removed?

        i was put in a similar position once, they were first shocked i didnt just sign the contract...

        i asked for a clause about inventions to be removed as it was just a land grab on anything i might have made outside of work - they claim they didnt know the clause was in there and removed it.

        similarly around "you may be required....outside of these hours" pay me or i dont work for you, its very simple

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

          The "inventions" clause is almost ubiquitous, at least the "while on company time" one. I don't think many would have a problem with that one - after all, that's what you are employed to do. I personally have never come across a similar clause covering things you do outside working hours but if I did I'd want to do something about it.

          similarly around "you may be required....outside of these hours" pay me or i dont work for you, its very simple

          Define "pay". Rarely does such a clause come with nothing but it often comes with a very low level of pay, or an impossible-to-cash "payment" such as Time Off In Lieu.

          The problem is that if you won't do it, someone else will. Unless you have unquestionably vital or unique skills, or can persuade your employers that you do, it is very easy simply not to renew a contract at the end of the "probation" period - which is often as long as a year - and employ a recent graduate who has very nearly the same skill set but is desperate to get a "proper" job to add to his/her CV, is probably single and child-free so much more flexible regarding working hours, holiday and the like and will put in the extra effort for little reward that you can't or won't.

          We've all been there. Think back to your first "proper" job...

          M.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

            "I personally have never come across a similar clause covering things you do outside working hours but if I did I'd want to do something about it."

            Seem to recall a story from the early days of home computers in the UK (ZX80 era) where some people who worked at ICL wrote some games which they sold via ads in PCW etc where they made a big deal of the programs being "written by top computer programmers at ICL" ....these were brought to ICL's attention who pointed the programmers to the clause in their contracts which stated that all computing related creations belonged to ICL and asked them to hand over the money!

            N.b. a few years ago I ad an offer from a company that I ended up declining (for other reasons) which seemed to require premission from HR to take on any other "job" which was explicitly stated to include any activity as a volunterr

          2. John Tserkezis

            Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

            "The problem is that if you won't do it, someone else will."

            So you're saying you would rather prostitute yourself, rather than some else who's willing?

            Somewhere along the line, you have to say "it just ain't worth it".

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

              So you're saying you would rather prostitute yourself, rather than some else who's willing?

              No, I am saying that while there are willing people out there, there is no pressure on employers to change their practices. You may have very little leverage in your current job and have to put up with it. That does not mean you shouldn't be out there looking for a better job, but neither does it mean you have to walk away from such a job if you don't have something else already lined up. Some of us have mortgages and families (and other stuff) to support.

              It is particularly likely to happen to young or inexperienced people, and the only way permanently out of such a situation is to get yourself into a position where you do have vital and (preferably) unique skills that the employer would struggle to replace.

              That is not to condone employers who take advantage of willing people. To take an extreme example I have a particular hatred of the unpaid "internship" arrangements common among some employers, feel they should be outlawed, and am surprised that they aren't already.

              M.

        2. Vic

          Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

          i asked for a clause about inventions to be removed

          I had to get a clause removed when I went contracting a few years back.

          They offered me their "standard" contract, which required that I give them the copyrights to any software I used. I told them I couldn't do that - and nor could anyone else.

          What they wanted was the copyright to anything I wrote - which was completely reasonable. But the contract as worded would require me to furnish them with the copyrights to both GNU/Linux and MS Windows, since I wrote for both.

          There were many contractors at this company. Apparently, I was the first ever to require a change to the contract (and I got it).

          Vic.

        3. h4rm0ny

          Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

          >>"have you ever asked for these clauses to be removed?"

          I have. Specifically, I wanted explicit agreement that something I was willing to do which was out of spec for my role I would have IP rights to. Went back and forth for nearly a month with my direct manager giving me lots of verbal assurances but refusing to put anything in written form ever. Until I went over her head to the board and told them flat out I would leave if they didn't agree to this and they told her to sign an agreement. She was extremely unhappy. I got what I wanted.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Powering up in the right order

    "Murray hustled his way to the office and “began the 4 hour process of gracefully shutting down every (mostly non-virtual back then) server, knowing full well this was going to take me at least 12 hours to get everything back on in the right order"

    Is it possible to design a network that will automatically recover regardless of the order that the machines are powered on?

    1. Aqua Marina

      Re: Powering up in the right order

      If you are given the budget and the time to do so, yes*. Unfortunately time and money are very rare things when it comes to IT spending.

      *But even then there are always the hacks that spring to the surface that some developer put together to solve an immediate problem, with the intention of doing it properly later. However due to the lack of time and money, the re-writes never occur, and everything comes crashing down at reboot because of one unfixed quickfix.

    2. hplasm
      Boffin

      Re: Powering up in the right order

      "Is it possible to design a network that will..."

      The 'network' would probably be fine. The convoluted jenga stack that passes for 'modern' servers, not so much.

      1. Nolveys

        Re: Powering up in the right order

        The convoluted jenga stack that passes for 'modern' servers, not so much.

        A lunatic sketch-lord I used to work for had two server racks. One day the server at the very bottom of one of the racks failed. There were three 4u servers on top of the failed server, a bunch of UPSes on top of that and some networking hardware on top of those. Did I mention that none of this stuff was actually attached to the rack? It was all just a big pile of schlarf.

        Due to the rats nest of cabling in the back it would have been impossible to lower the pile down while removing the bottom server. I disconnected the bottom server and, bit-by-bit, pulled it out whilst shoving random office shit in place of where it had been.

        Once the server was fixed I just tossed it on top of the whole horror show and reconnected it. Over time the foundation of office shit progressively and non uniformly compressed causing the pile to skew noticeably.

        Ah memories.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Powering up in the right order

      In theory yes. You can have a management server that is responsible for powering on everything else in the correct order, performing internal checks that verifies that there are no problems, and generating appropriate e-mails if it encounters any issues. The problem with this is that it is an incredibly complex problem to solve (you have to define all of the hardware and software dependencies in order to allow the systems to restart in the correct order) and requires some specialised equipment to automate the equipment power-on. This in turn makes it very expensive to implement; given the number of times it would actually be required it is generally more cost effective to haul in a system admin to do the job. Besides, a person on site can also resolve any hardware problems as they occur.

      1. Chris King

        Re: Powering up in the right order

        You would also need to make sure that the management server had no dependencies on other systems ("What do you mean, the DHCP and DNS servers haven't booted up yet ?") and that it is regularly checked to make sure it works ahead of when it's needed - otherwise it's "Damage Repair System damaged, Captain !"

        1. Nolveys

          Re: Powering up in the right order

          You would also need to make sure that the management server had no dependencies on other systems...

          The dependencies for the management server could easily be brought up in the necessary order by using another management server. I swear, I have to think of everything.

      2. Vic

        Re: Powering up in the right order

        The problem with this is that it is an incredibly complex problem to solve (you have to define all of the hardware and software dependencies in order to allow the systems to restart in the correct order)

        It's not *that* complex; I've done it a number of times. Puppet is my tool of choice.

        The tricky bit is coping with failure - and importantly, what happens when your primary machine for a particular service takes so long to boot that the secondary has already started doing the job. These things take a bit of thinking about...

        The trick, as ever, is to keep everything as simple as possible. And no simpler.

        Vic.

      3. druck Silver badge

        Re: Powering up in the right order

        alannorthants wrote:

        The problem with this is that it is an incredibly complex problem to solve (you have to define all of the hardware and software dependencies in order to allow the systems to restart in the correct order) and requires some specialised equipment to automate the equipment power-on.

        Networked PDU's aren't that specialised. Each socket can be controlled by sending commands over ssh.

        1. Vic

          Re: Powering up in the right order

          Networked PDU's aren't that specialised. Each socket can be controlled by sending commands over ssh.

          At least one popular brand also responds to SNMP. There's some fun waiting to happen if you get an intruder on the network for a while...

          Vic.

  3. magickmark
    Pint

    Thank Bibulous it's Friday

    "Thank Bibulous it's Friday, because I can write this and go home."

    Oh God, maybe some Wow-Wow source will help so you'll be fit again for Monday?

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Thank Bibulous it's Friday

      "Oh God, maybe some Wow-Wow source will help so you'll be fit again for Monday?"

      Nah, Bibulous will be fine, he never suffers the hangover.

      Poor Bilious though...

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Thank Bibulous it's Friday

        Bilious, the 'oh god' of hangovers :)

      2. CrazyOldCatMan

        Re: Thank Bibulous it's Friday

        > Poor Bilious though...

        There is an Asterix character called Bilious.. (Asterix and the Olympic Games I think..)

    2. David Roberts Silver badge

      Re: Thank Bibulous it's Friday - Wow Wow source?

      Is this some product of this Agile thingumy I keep reading about?

      Sounds scrummy!

      1. WonkoTheSane
        Headmaster

        Re: Thank Bibulous it's Friday - Wow Wow source?

        It's a Discworld reference (as is Bilious, the Oh, GOD! of hangovers)

        1. magickmark

          Re: Thank Bibulous it's Friday - Wow Wow source?

          Hey, Wonko, how are the dolphins? (bet you've not been asked that before? :D )

          1. WonkoTheSane
            Alien

            Re: Thank Bibulous it's Friday - Wow Wow source?

            Actually, I haven't. They're fine BTW.

      2. Kane Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Thank Bibulous it's Friday - Wow Wow source?

        "Is this some product of this Agile thingumy I keep reading about?"

        Source for the Sauce, you say?

    3. GrumpyOldMan
      Facepalm

      Re: Thank Bibulous it's Friday

      Hi - Grammar Police here.

      Is that Billious source and in Open Source - or did you mean Sauce - as in a condiment or component of a meal?

      FFS people!! Get your spelling right! Even if it is Friday!

      Ye Gods!

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Thank Bibulous it's Friday @ GrumpyOldMan

        "Is that Billious source and as in Open Source"

        There, FTFY!

    4. DeVino
      Happy

      Re: Thank Bibulous it's Friday

      I like the both realities where that spelling mistake was a freudian slip or was intentional

  4. Steve Button

    They've sped up to the point where they provoke you

    To tell the fucking punch-line before you have told the joke

    It was in the title FFS.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    80% the work I do is pointless!

    My *actual* job, as far as I can make out, is to be on comities, management meetings, project reviews, standardisation comities (did I say 'comities' already, I forget in all the excitement), do project reporting and maybe write task lists and some guideline/strategy documents.

    The reason, I figure, is to keep "my" capable people away from useless reporting and futile busy-work that management sees as "progress".

    But, honesty, it's depressing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      (did I say 'comities' already, I forget in all the excitement)

      Yes you did. And you spelt it wrong both times

      1. waldo kitty
        Trollface

        Re: (did I say 'comities' already, I forget in all the excitement)

        I was trying to figure out if he meant "comedies" or "committees" but had just about decided that they're both the same so a blended spelling might actually be in order ;)

    2. CaptainCorrection
      Headmaster

      Re: 80% the work I do is pointless!

      Greetings. You probably mean 'committees'. You might actually mean comities, but I doubt it. Cheerio!

      1. Wensleydale Cheese

        Re: 80% the work I do is pointless!

        "Greetings. You probably mean 'committees'. You might actually mean comities, but I doubt it. Cheerio!"

        comité is French for committee but sounds different

        Using French pronunciation rules comitie sounds closer to the English committee

    3. Allonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: 80% the work I do is pointless!

      > honesty, it's depressing

      Sure is. Give me dishonesty every time ;)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 80% the work I do is pointless!

      Oh crap, is my boss posting on El Reg as AC now?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 80% the work I do is pointless!

        "Oh crap, is my boss posting on El Reg as AC now?"

        Yes.

        Monday, 9 a.m., my office.

  6. Chris King

    When work and leave collide

    Ah, there's nothing like planning a break... Then having to change your plans because someone decides they need you to cover critical data centre work at the very last minute, despite having said "No Chris, we don't need you in for this one" repeatedly when asked "Are you sure about that ?"

    Grrrr...

    So, I turned my Christmas break into a three-week holiday, and declared myself to be totally unavailable for on-call. I had just been told off for not spreading my breaks more evenly throughout the year - so that year they got the Christmas on-call cover they deserved, not the cover they needed.

    1. waldo kitty
      Angel

      Re: When work and leave collide

      despite having said "No Chris, we don't need you in for this one" repeatedly when asked "Are you sure about that ?"

      that is where you went wrong...

      AB: Doctor! Doctor! It hurts when I do this.

      Dr: So DON'T do that!

      so that year they got the Christmas on-call cover they deserved, not the cover they needed.

      did they learn their lesson? ;)

      1. Chris King

        Re: When work and leave collide

        did they learn their lesson? ;)

        Maybe, but I still like a long break around Christmas, and one around my birthday !

  7. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Has your boss forgotten something important?

    Humility.

    Have you been forced to do utterly pointless work?

    Filling in time sheets.

    1. Chris King

      "Have you been forced to do utterly pointless work?"

      Filling in time sheets.

      At one very early gig, they wanted time sheets filled in with 15-minute granularity. I asked them if they had a code for "pointless filling-in of time sheets because everybody's working on the same project anyway".

      1. Anonymous IV

        Re: "Have you been forced to do utterly pointless work?"

        We actually had a time sheet category named "Filling in Time Sheets" - but we weren't allowed to charge more than 15 minutes per week to it!

      2. hplasm
        Devil

        Re: "Have you been forced to do utterly pointless work?"

        "pointless filling-in of time sheets"

        tha's the first thing that goes down on them- every day.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: "Have you been forced to do utterly pointless work?"

          From a business point of view, timesheets can be invaluable however this isn't about entering what a member of staff was doing between 11:00 and 11:30 on a particular day as that's tedious, usually unnecessary and often impossible to enter as on many occasions staff will multitask to a certain extent. The key is to make it as hassle free and easy as possible therefore just recording against a particular day the number of hours that were taken up by a particular project, or an element of a project, is usually good enough.

          Where timesheets can be very useful is to record the hours spent on a project, whether or not this is broken down into documentation, implementation, testing or whatever depends on the project or the degree of detail required. Why is this useful? It's not for monitoring of staff purposes as a good manager should generally know what their staff are up to, it's an important feedback loop for the costing process. For example, if a project is priced based on there being X amount of hours required but it turns out that 3 x X hours were used instead then this indicates a problem somewhere which needs to be fixed. How this is fixed depends on the cause but it quantifiably indicates a problem which needs to be investigated and could either require better (or just some) training, better resource planning, a change of staff (Staff A might be faster, better or just prefers to perform a particular task compared to Staff B) or that the sales droid is in la-la land and needs to be beaten into shape. Without this basic feedback process a business will often badly misquote projects and without it a manager doesn't have the numbers to back up their cases when reporting project issues.

          Myself? I hate entering timesheets :) but enough time running a business and projects you learn the value of basic metrics.

          1. NotBob

            Re: "Have you been forced to do utterly pointless work?"

            I worked at a factory that did this well. Employees scanned or swiped time cards when starting or leaving machines. There was provision for logging time not at a machine, too (down time, no material, fixing someone else's cock-up)... It was actually quite nice, and manglement had all their pretty graphs and whatnot.

          2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: "Have you been forced to do utterly pointless work?"

            "Where timesheets can be very useful is to record the hours spent on a project, ..."

            Indeed. I even did this when I was self employed - it's vital to know whether you've actually earned money on a project - or not.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      FAIL

      Hands up who has a time sheet system that defaults to the current week, rather than last week, thus leading me to fill in the wrong week about 30% of the time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "defaults to the current week"

        Because you're supposed to fill them at the end of each day, not after a week (or after a month, as I usually do...).

        I'm just happy now I'm working on a project without a code (too long to explain why, just read Dilbert of a few days ago and his reorg woes for something alike...), my manager has to find ways to allocate our hours somewhere...

  8. Oengus
    Pint

    Whats Overtime?

    Friday night and I am in the office right now (the only person here). We have another person in another office waiting for the US to come on-line and do a change. All they can tell us is that the change will commence at 6:00pm (our time) and should be finished in 2 hours but you had better allow 4 just in case. We have to be here to confirm that everything is working after the change. My contract has no overtime either so I know where Murray is coming from.

    Beer because that is what I should be enjoying right now...

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Whats Overtime?

      It's something decent bosses offer, but what i haven't seen much of in my current job, apparently I am supposed to do it for love of the company nowadays.

      Funnily enough my previous employers probably got more free work out of me because they were often happy to pay overtime when needed and they were generous with it (or by making up for it in other ways), which meant me putting in an extra few hours free here and there voluntarily I considered fair do and just part of getting something right for them.

    2. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Whats Overtime?

      Sorry to say it but you need to either a) find another job where it's not specified in your contract that you have to do whatever management says no matter what it actually says in your contract; b) inform your boss that any work outside of that specified in your contract is going to require a renegotiate of your contract to include overtime or TOIL; or c) just say No.

    3. Alumoi Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Whats Overtime?

      Overtime? The bonus every decent CEO gets for the time wasted while travelling in the private jet from one business meeting (golf, party, orgy) to another.

  9. imanidiot Silver badge

    Why come in?

    No overtime pay and no contractual obligation to come in for this sort of work (on-call work should be specifically mentioned in the contract)? "Sorry, I have other commitments today I cannot cancel. Good luck with that".

  10. Valerion

    Travel time

    I used to work going out all over the country installing and fixing software. They never counted driving time as actual work. So I could easily have a week of getting up at 5am and getting home at 9pm, but had no right to complain because I only did 2 hours per day of actual "work".

    One day after a week of that I got home at 3pm, and promptly got a phone call from my boss who had checked the tracker on my car and wanted to know why I had gone home rather than coming into the office for the rest of the day.

    He learnt a new swear word or two that day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Travel time

      That's my current job - for one more week. Yesterday was up to Newcastle to be told "we canceled the contact last month, when is somebody collecting the old equipment". Today was down to Brum to be told "it was done last month, by the way, the old equipment still hasn't been collected".

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Travel time

        You are with BT and I claim my £5!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vote with your feet

    You get to see a new job offer contract before you sign it - if you are not happy with the salary, don't sign. If you are not happy with the overtime arrangements - unpaid vs TOIL vs. paid - then don't sign.

    If you are desperate to hang onto a miserable job, or can't find another better one elsewhere, stop whining princess - or do something about it. You'll never re-negotiate your existing contract whilst in role, especially not one that is favourable to the employer but not to you, however unfair/under-paid it. The only way to fix it is to leave or leverage the fact you are a rock-star essential employee (and be careful how you present the latter, as holding a gun to someones head usually backfires).

  12. MisterHappy
    Coat

    It's all in the details

    There are times when just to be arsey you can pick these contracts apart, when told I 'had' to take part in the on-call rota I chose the 4th Tuesday every month because that indicated willingness and highlighted that there was no minimum level of commitment stated.

    Similar sort of thing to extra hours worked, if the contract says you may be required to work extra hours, point out that you stayed late one day in Feb 2009 and regard that as satisfying the requirements.

  13. Ugotta B. Kiddingme
    Alert

    scheduled power down actually went well, until...

    In the mid 1990's, I'd been on the job about two years and was stuck on nights in the corporate data center. We had a scheduled power maintenance event that was properly planned and executed. Everything went perfectly fine until the power came back on...

    The high rise I work in was erected in the late 1960s and was built without a sprinkler system for fire suppression. A year into my gig, we were told that our "grandfathered" status no longer applied and the building would be getting sprinklers on all floors, including mine which housed the corporate DC. We were told we would get a "pre-ack" system - no water would be in the pipes over (or under the raised floor of) the DC. Instead, those lines would contain pressurized air which held a rubber stopper in place against the water. In the event of an alarm, the pressure would automatically be bled off and water would then and only then be allowed into the pipes. This pressure was maintained by a small compressor housed in a room across the hall from the DC.

    It is important to point out that the entire DC had a massive UPS that could keep the whole thing running for about half an hour. The UPS itself was backed up by a diesel generator which activated within a minute or so of power loss. All in all, a reasonably well thought out setup. Monthly testing of both the UPS and generator ensured that both worked properly. At the beginning of that night's shift, I switched everything over to the generator feed and notified the building maintenance people they could begin.

    It is equally important to point out that the aforementioned little compressor maintaining the pressure in the DC sprinkler lines was NOT on the UPS/generator feed. I was blissfully unaware of this fact until the power came back. Only two of the overhead light fixtures were on the backup power feed so light levels were significantly subdued. I settled in for a quiet shift and, in between hourly checks and overseas helldesk tickets, I relaxed with a good spy novel. And when I say relaxed, I mean getting quite drowsy.

    So imagine my surprise at 4:45am when the power came back on the the HOLYMOTHEROFGODWHATTHEFUCKISTHAT?!? ear-splitting klaxon alarm, which I hadn't previously noticed was thoughtfully placed directly over my workstation, announced the fact that the pressure in the pre-ack lines had dipped during the outage. So jolted was I that I was out of the chair (book flying), 20 feet across the room, and hand on the exit door before my brain actually registered the sound. If I hadn't been a reasonably fit 30-something at the time, I probably would have dropped right there from cardiac arrest. On the bright side, my heart had received a week's worth of cardio workout in about 20 seconds so I could skip the gym for a while. A day or two later, my co-workers noticed the pair of gym socks and several feet of duct tape covering the pre-ack pressure alarm...

  14. JerseyDaveC

    I was once an IT manager on a contract that didn't pay overtime, though the company was pretty laid back when it came to sensible time off if you'd (e.g.) been called out at night and were tired. The company I worked for moved office over a weekend, so we spent many hours (including precisely three hours' kip on the Friday night) shifting stuff across town and getting everything working. All part of the job, and it was actually good fun, we had plenty of external help in order to keep the workload sensible, and nobody minded.

    A few days after the move my boss collared me and handed me an envelope as "a little thankyou" for a job well done. My goodwill for the company was noticeably enhanced by the cheque for a thousand pounds that I discovered therein.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Doing the maths that $20 an hour (less tax) and no time off. They got you cheap.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And TOIL should be given or the relevant time worked

    If you work a certain number of hours extra, then any TOIL should cover the equivalent salary payment for overtime.

    In my previous job there were a few occasions where my management wouldn't pay the overtime but would give me TOIL instead. So, if I worked six hours at time and a half overtime rate, I'd claim nine hours TOIL to cover the overtime payment I was due. I had to explain this to one of my managers when he queried my claim, and it had never occurred to him that just giving someone the same TOIL as the hours overtime worked was actually short-changing their staff. He approved all my subsequent TOIL claims, but never offered me TOIL for any Sunday work which was double time.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In my previous job, we had 1.5x overtime and when I got an on-call call in the middle of the night I could come in late. My boss didn't see the problem with refusing to pay overtime for the hours worked in the middle of the night if I opted to sleep in.

    One of the many reasons I quit.

  17. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    It's amazing what you can get if you push back

    ... whilst reading carefully through the contract, silently crossing out bits you don't like (and signing the crossings) without saying a word, followed by a quick double-check then handing the amended document back to the (usually open mouthed) company official with a friendly smile.

    1. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: It's amazing what you can get if you push back

      Not unthinkable. Did something similar once, had the boss add the missing health cover scheme that'd been agreed on the phone to the contract in biro and sign it before accepting it. Wouldn't work with bigcorp though.

  18. Barry Rueger

    Looking Out for Yourself

    Regardless of what your contract might say - and especially if you don't have anything on paper - your actions during the first week or two on a new job will define how things are done in the future.

    If you get sucked into working ten hours of unpaid overtime in the first week, because you want to show that you're an eager employee, you will have established that this is a normal practice, and will keep doing it pretty much forever.

    If though, during that first week, when asked to donate time for unplanned work, you can beg off - "gee, if only you had told me earlier, my kid is having a heart transplant, and I'm assisting the surgeon, otherwise I would have been happy to do it," you will have established on some level that doing extra is an unusual situation.

    Funny thing is, if you can consistently avoid extra, unpaid work, you'll find that they'll manage just fine, or that someone less clever will be given the work.

    Timesheets are a GOOD thing, not because bosses insist on them, but because they force YOU to keep track of what you do.

    Even if they're not required, it's very good practice to sit down at the end of each day and make notes about how your time was consumed.

    It's good for you to actually think about these things, and it will make you a more productive employee. It also allows you to spot problems that might otherwise go unnoticed.

    Best of all though, in the event that you and your employer wind up facing off behind lawyers you'll be very, very glad to have documented your work patterns and conditions.

    Detailed notes and time sheets can save you if there's any dispute.

    Which is why you not only fill out the damned time sheets, you make sure to take a copy off site, and store it at home.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Looking Out for Yourself

      "Even if they're not required, it's very good practice to sit down at the end of each day and make notes about how your time was consumed."

      Can be very useful. Not just when facing off behind lawvers. Performance interviews, "what have you been doing with your time" questions, arguing raises or promotions... nothing like beating them with their own weapons.

    2. Wensleydale Cheese

      Re: Looking Out for Yourself

      "Even if they're not required, it's very good practice to sit down at the end of each day and make notes about how your time was consumed."

      At one point I had a diary especially for logging my time at work, and filled it out on the train on the way home each day.

      It became an extremely useful record of time spent at client sites.

  19. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    The problem with expecting commitment..

    I have always been a loyal employee to every company I've worked for, though I get more jaded as the years go by. Why? It's simple: Most companies expect you to "give 110%", and always act, communicate, and dress professionally and in the best interests of the company. However, this is often a very unrequited relationship, and the same employer that expects this behavior from you may have you walked out of the building with no advance notice if secret layoffs are being planned behind your back. I have been a victim of layoffs and scheming twice in my life and it's harder to start over every time, as many of us know.

    It's like being faithful to a spouse that's always shopping for a younger, prettier, smarter, richer model and cheating on you every chance they can behind your back. Then getting violently angry at you and taking all they can in a divorce if you question their behavior. Oh, and that non-competition agreement that you signed is like discovering that same cheating spouse gave you Herpes too.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: The problem with expecting commitment..

      Genreally speaking companies that ask for 110% only tend to give back about 70% themselves.

      1. Kiwi

        Re: The problem with expecting commitment..

        Genreally speaking companies that ask for 110% only tend to give back about 70% themselves.

        Think you have an extraneous "0" in there - try 7%...

        (we need a "cynical old bastard" icon...)

  20. Mr_Pitiful

    Overtime & Weekend Support

    I contract to numerous companies, and NONE of them offer overtime or TOIL for support out of hours.

    I recently learned that their hours had changed, now 9-5 support only, Used to be 8-6 Support. nobody informed me and I'd happily been supporting customers 'Out of Hours' as I work in a remote location.

    I've had 3 support calls today, and decided to assist, not because I have to, but because I value their trust and I know I can solve the issue quickly. In the last 12 months I've been told not to do support out of hours, but when a major client calls, I can't say get lost, it's the weekend.

    Anyway, I know I am doing the support for free, but who cares except my wife & kids!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Overtime & Weekend Support

      Talk about living up to your username... (as I am, anonymously, I guess)

  21. Steve B

    twice that occured

    Two companies tried the old "this is part of your salaried job so you work all out of hours for free" My response was if it part of my job I will do it normal hours.Big meeting called and all the original staff stated that they could see the employers point of view and that they would willingly do it. It got to me and I just said " OK you have enough volunteers now, you don't need me." and walked out. That was when they realised they did. We all got paid right through.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was working 22.5 hours a week in the public sector, so 3 days a week. I had to put in a time sheet every week with a running total of any TOIL not taken. Within a few months of the contract started I had accrued 37 hours of toil that I had been unable to take. The manager decided to give me a bollocking for this, and asked me how it had happened. I explained that she gave me a week full of work each week and asked me to come in for periods of my days off. She then went on to tell me that I must not let it build up so much in future. Immediately after that she asked me to come in on my next day off. I am too old and wise to work for nothing so the TOIL continued to accumulate and I managed to grab a couple of weeks off when she went on leave.

  23. Stunt_Pants_Murray
    Happy

    Murray here - Thought I'd clarify the mass rant my story prompted regarding lack of OT / working for free. For brevity, my story was duly edited (as I gave permission for), including removing my final paragraph:

    The following Monday, I handed in my resignation and have been freelance ever since.

    This was my first "Infrastructure Gig" and I was rather young and exploitable, having been promoted from second-line support. When I was promoted, I tripped over the threshold that the company set for anyone earning more than X doesn't get OT or TOIL. Yes, I was stupid and duly exploited but I did learn an awful lot and now I'm paid when I work!

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