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Guy Stirs Drama By Reminding His Boss That He’s Not Required To Be Available By Phone 24/7

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Boundaries are incredibly important, especially when it comes to knowing when to say “no” and determining your availability for your place of work.

Some workplaces have a terrible habit of pretending you have no life outside of work, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, so you should plan accordingly and have firm boundaries.

Redditor Red_Beard84 found this out for himself recently, when his boss demanded he be more available.

After seeing his boss’s reaction, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he was wrong to stick up for himself.

He asked the sub:

“AITA? I told my boss I’m not required to answer my phone 24/7, and now he’s salty.”

The OP tried to maintain healthy boundaries after work.

“I (37 [Male]) work in a department where I’m the sole expert for our equipment.”

“If an issue comes up and the shift crew can’t figure it out, I’m the first one they try to contact.”

“I’m happy to help since I’m friends with all of our guys, but these calls can come at late night or early morning and my schedule is 7 AM to 4 PM.”

“When I got the job, the only stipulation was that they would be able to contact me for stuff like scheduling issues, shift coverage, or other issues, but they did not mention anything about after-hours on-call.”

“Outside of my normal hours, I don’t give a rat’s a** about the plant. I’ll usually answer calls out of my own goodwill, as long as that’s not being abused.”

“However, my sleep time is sacred. If I’m woken up, it will take me at least an hour to fall back to sleep IF I’M LUCKY.”

The OP had no choice but to take a call recently.

“My phone started going off around 1 AM and went off a few times more before my wife gave me a swift kick in the a**, telling me to shut it off or answer it.”

“I called back and it was our shift technician (Clayton).”

“He apologized for waking me up but they had been dealing with an issue for hours, so I helped him out, and it took all of 5 minutes.”

“After hanging up, I ended up lying there in bed for another 2 hours before falling back asleep.”

The OP’s boss was not happy with how he handled the situation.

“Later that morning, my supervisor (John) had me meet him in his office and this is how our conversation went:”

“John: ‘It seems we had an eventful night. Clayton had to get ahold of me. You didn’t answer his call?'”

“Me: ‘Around 1 AM? I was asleep and the phone didn’t wake me.'”

“John: ‘Well, he called me and I wasn’t able to do much for him, so I had him call you back. Told him you were probably hard to wake up and to keep calling.'”

“Me, a little p**sed off now: ‘Well, I’m always happy to help the guys, but they can’t rely on me to always be available. I usually keep my phone in the kitchen, but I just happened to have left it on my nightstand last night.'”

“John: ‘Well, this isn’t the first time they’ve had trouble reaching you.'”

“Me, a bit more agitated: ‘Most likely because my phone was in the kitchen, I don’t keep it on me 24/7.'”

“John: ‘You’re required to have a phone on you.'”

“Me, p**sed off: ‘Ok, nowhere in the policy does it dictate that I am to keep on a phone on me at all times, nor does my job description. I am only required to have a method for you to contact me if we have a scheduling change or some other issues that deal directly with my ability to get to work.'”

“I continued, ‘If you wish for me to be on call then perhaps we need to discuss promoting me to a position that requires me to be on call, but I am happy with my current arrangement. If you feel differently, then maybe we need to invite HR to join our conversation.'”

“That’s where things ended.”

“I’m well aware that I could suffer some consequences for this, but I feel that this is an overstep on their part.”

“I do have a good working relationship with everyone but when he said that, I pretty much snapped at him and now I’m feeling like an AH.”

“So AITA?”

The OP also added details about his work arrangements. 

“So I have been keeping notes and saving all communications over the years and have backups of all call logs and text transcripts. I did this just to keep my a** covered by to now I see it’ll come in use. I have a meeting with the head of HR tomorrow and my plan is to lay enough info to show a pattern of what’s going on.”

“On the recommendation of another Redditor, I did send an email to my boss asking him to confirm that I’m ‘expected to keep my phone on me at all times,’ and he responded, ‘Affirmative.’  Well, that’s now part of the info package.”

“While they do not pay for my phone, there have been insinuations made by supervisors that since the company provides a corporate discount through the carrier I use that it justifies them asking us to be available.”

“I don’t even use this discount because we can’t stack it with other discounts. I have a family plan and since my mother is on it, we get to use the discount that the county she works for provides and it’s a better discount.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said the OP should be paid if his boss wanted him to increase his availability. 

“NTA – If he wants you on call 24/7 there needs to be a stipulation in your contract that states you are on call and stipulates an after-hours pay rate with a minimum per call amount. That after-hours rate should also be at least 2-4x your normal hourly rate.”AngeloPappas

“There was a court case a few years ago where an employer was required to pay the employee for 24 hours a day if the said employee was supposed to be on call 24 hours a day. Major pay bump!!”llamadrama2021

“If they say you’re required to talk to them, start charging them. They’re required to pay you.”WarlockyGoodness

“OP needs to look up his state’s laws for minimum shift pay. I’d expect it to be 2 hours, even if the job lasts 5 minutes. The company called him to work, the company pays him the minimum.”Codfish_Joe

“Next time he states you are required to have a phone on you 24/7, ask him how the company plans to reimburse your phone bill? Is there an accounting department head it should go directly to, or…?.”

“Also NTA. I’ll parrot this until I’m in the cold, cold ground: you don’t owe your job anything outside your job description, ever.”hauntofhighAFtower

Others agreed and said the OP was right to stand up for himself. 

“Then stop answering their calls. What are they gonna do? Fire you? They can’t afford to get rid of the only guy who knows how to fix their problems.”

“You hold the power here, and it’s high time you used it. Demand compensation for off-hour calls, or demand that someone else be trained to help if issues come up.”

“Don’t let them railroad you and act like this is acceptable behavior. Your life exists outside of your job.”l3gi0n-1183

“I’m the boss and I don’t answer the work phone after 9 pm. There’s literally no reason my employees should be thinking about work that late at night.”One_Discipline_3868

“Almost always an IT/tech type person who needs to be on call is (a) paid extra for such availability and (b) has a schedule of which specific days and times they are available. Expecting 24/7 availability is totally unacceptable.”TheZZ9

“You need to stick to your boundaries and insist on pay for on-call time or stop doing it altogether. Stop giving away your time and sleep for free.”Seeker131313

“OP, if more people stood up like you did, there’d be less abuse of workers’ time.”madnessfromthesea

The OP was conflicted after his conversation with his boss, wondering if he was wrong to value his time beyond his job description. But the subReddit felt otherwise, claiming not only that the OP should be compensated separately for being on-call and for taking calls during that time, but that he also needed to continue to limit how much of his time he was giving away, even if it was paid for.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.