Standby Policy

Introduction

The University recognises that a structured standby system should be in place to deal with a variety of issues that can arise out of normal working hours across the diverse range of institutes/service departments that operate within the University.

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that key University services can adequately be supported out of core hours according to users’ needs, minimising any outages or unavailability of systems or services to those users, to deal with the failure of any critical systems and to deal with any circumstances which could have a significant risk to health and safety or the environment, attract news and media attention, or pose a threat to continued operations or business.

Certain staff will therefore be required to provide standby cover and it is important that this work be recognised and rewarded consistently. This policy stipulates what payments will be made to all employees up to and including Grade 7 who are placed on a formal standby system.

A standby payment will be payable to any employee who, as part of their role, is required to be on standby to deal with emergency calls and/or is required to attend a University site to deal with an incident or emergency out-with normal working hours. The allowance is payable only to staff who are part of a formal on-call rota within their Institute/Service Department which has been authorised by the relevant Institute Director/Head of Service Department. The allowances payable will be increased on an annual basis in line with the pay review.

Definition

For the purposes of this policy, the term ‘standby’ is defined as time during which employees need to be available to respond to a telephone call from the workplace quickly and be in a state of readiness to perform work as required. This availability may not necessarily require employees to physically attend one of the University’s buildings, sites or properties. In exceptional circumstances those on ‘standby’ may be required to work from home or another agreed location, not necessarily a University site.

For the avoidance of any doubt, ‘standby’ payments made under this policy relate explicitly to a period of time during which the employee may be required to respond, but is not actually working or required to be working.

Employees who undertake ‘standby’ duty are therefore required to be available to receive and deal with work related issues for the whole duration of a pre-determined period outside normal working hours.

Scope

This policy applies to all employees covered by the Framework Agreement up to and including Grade 7 who either as part of their contract of employment, or, at the University’s discretion during exceptional circumstances, volunteer to be on standby on a formal rota for a specific/short period of time.

Employees on or above Grade 8 are outside the scope of this policy. Institute Directors/Heads of Service Departments will determine whether or not the service is ‘business-critical’, and are responsible for ensuring the reasonable and equitable implementation of these arrangements, particularly with regard to the impact of the policy on male and female staff, those with caring responsibilities, and part-time staff.

This policy applies to all staff participating in a formal standby rota from the effective date of implementation of this policy.

Types of Standby

There are 3 categories of standby arrangements:-

Regular Standby – for providing consistent and sustained cover outside of normal working hours to meet the University’s business needs. The operation of a regular standby duty rota is determined by the needs of the service and as such may vary between institutes/service departments or cease from time to time. Payments made to you for being on standby are non-contractual and should not be relied upon as guaranteed earnings.

Emergency Standby – to ensure employees are available to respond to the University’s Business Continuity Plan in the event that it is invoked by the Executive i.e. major incidents. The unpredictable nature of the incident may require a rota to be drawn up at short notice and it is important that contact numbers for everyone expected to be working are up to date and available. Employees are therefore required to advise the HR department or use the self-service online portal to keep their contact details up to date.

N.B Ad hoc responses to emergency situations on an irregular basis where an employee is not part of a Standby Rota will be covered by Call Out Payments only and will not attract a standby payment.

Ad Hoc Standby – to provide cover at specific times, for example cover during Bank Holidays, closed days, Fresher’s week, etc. Ad hoc arrangements to cover bank holidays will apply to the actual bank holiday and not those dates advised by the University which can be found on the University’s website.

Standby Rota

The standby rota should be prepared as far as possible in advance to:-

  • enable employees to make the necessary arrangements
  • ensure that roles and responsibilities are known and understood
  • ensure contact numbers for employees on the rota are up to date
  • ensure the procedures for accessing tools, vehicles, entry into buildings etc are well established and known in advance.

Restrictions

Standby duty may necessitate an employee restricting their activities to those which will not compromise the requirement to respond quickly and effectively to a request for support or service. These restrictions are necessary to ensure that the employee will be able to perform his or her duties and responsibilities as they would during the normal working day. By the very nature of potentially being called upon to perform such duties, the consumption of alcohol or use of certain medications are expressly prohibited while an employee is on standby duty. However, it does not prevent normal social or leisure activities from being undertaken as long as response times to requests for support are not unduly affected.

There will be processes in place to accommodate sickness and holiday standby for periods when an employee is not at work. No standby payment will be made to those staff who were on rota to cover standby but due to holidays or sickness for example are not able to provide such cover. The standby payment will be made to the employee that actually covers the standby. Such additional requests to cover standby will be covered by ad hoc arrangements put in place by your line manager.

Standby Payments

A standby payment can only be claimed by an employee:-

  • that qualifies for the payment
  • whose timesheet has been approved by their line manager.
  • based on the period of time that employee is on standby, irrespective of whether the member of staff is called out to work.
  • once in any given 12 hour period and/or once in any part thereof.

Employees who are not on a standby rota but are called out to respond to an emergency will not receive the standby payment but will receive payment for the hours worked in accordance with the Call Out arrangements outlined in the Framework Agreement. Employees who are on a standby rota and who are required to respond to an emergency will receive the appropriate rate of pay in respect of the hours worked in addition to their ‘standby’ payment.

Calculating Standby Payments

Payments are calculated on the basis of each 12 hour period or part thereof, e.g. 13 hours of standby = 2 standby payments.

There are potentially 2 periods of standby available on each calendar day (that includes weekdays, weekends, bank holidays and closed days).

For each period of standby you will receive a payment of £15 which will be subject to normal deductions.

All time worked when an employee on standby is called in to work will be paid at the appropriate rate.

N.B Ad hoc responses to emergency situations on an irregular basis where an employee is not part of a Standby Rota will be covered by Call Out payments only and will not attract a standby payment. Where a weekly standby rota operates throughout the year, institutes/service departments will be required to implement a special rota during the Christmas period to ensure that the standby cover can be evenly distributed amongst employees.

Monitoring Responses

Managers applying a standby system should monitor the frequency and length of any associated response and the extent of planned and unplanned out of hours worked on a regular basis to ensure that no employee is being required to undertake additional work which may be detrimental to their health and/or wellbeing.

Employee Responsibilities

Whilst on standby you must not consume alcohol or take medication/drugs which could impact on your ability to respond or perform your work.

Should you take a call whilst on standby duty that requires you to attend the workplace, then it is expected that you will arrive at work within a reasonable time of being called out.

A condition of accepting a standby payment is that you must agree to remain within a reasonable travelling distance throughout the standby period; you may leave your home but must still remain contactable and have transport available to return to work within the prescribed period.

If you become unwell or are unable to comply with your responsibilities during a period of standby for example due to an unexpected change in personal circumstances or ill health you must contact the nominated person (site security) as soon as possible so that alternative arrangements can be made. You would not be paid any standby payment where you have not been able to fulfil at least 50% of the required standby duty and/or have not been called out.

Whilst you should not ordinarily arrange for any personal commitments that prevent you from undertaking standby cover, we are also mindful that from time to time commitments arise that cannot be changed. Where this is the case, the employee should request leave as soon as possible. Where cover cannot be established by the line manager at the time of the annual leave request being received leave may not be approved until and unless suitable cover is established. Annual leave requests will considered without unreasonable delay. Therefore no individual should make any arrangements relating to annual leave prior to receiving approval of leave dates requested. Staff working on shift patterns should not normally be placed on formal standby rota’s on their rest days.

If you are on standby you do so on the basis that you will be expected to deal with incidents that may arise within the scope of your job role and/or competency.

Payment Arrangements for Standby Duty

Claims for standby should be made by timesheet on a monthly basis in arrears.

Once completed, the timesheet must be submitted to your line manager or nominated person for authorisation. Duly authorised payments will then be submitted to Payroll for payment.

It should be clearly indicated on the form that the payment(s) relate specifically to standby rather than normal overtime arrangements.

N.B. Claims for payment cannot be processed without approval as detailed above.

Payments made under this policy will not be taken into account for the purposes of the calculation of holiday or sick pay or any other payments which rely on average earnings. Standby payments are non superannuable.

Working Time

Managers must ensure that they have sufficient staff available to resource their operation where employees have volunteered to participate in a rota for standby duties in emergency circumstances.

Standby time is not ‘working time’ within the definition of Working Time Regulations, therefore only time for response (and travelling to and from the location) applies for this purpose. Exceptions can be made for emergencies as long as the rest period can be taken at a later date (a weekend or next non-working day would count for this purpose).

Line managers who operate a standby system in their area should regularly review:-

  • the frequency of participation in the standby rota
  • the frequency and length of responses
  • the extent of planned and unplanned out of hours working
  • that no employee is being required to undertake additional work which may be detrimental to their health and/or wellbeing.

Policy Review

The Director of Human Resources will co-ordinate a review of this Policy after a year and thereafter on a triennial basis, or before if deemed necessary, to maintain compliance with legislation and good practice.

The review will be undertaken in consultation with the recognised trade unions and any proposed amendments will be submitted to the Professional Development and Staffing Committee for approval.

Equality Impact Assessment

The University is committed to embedding the Single Equality Scheme into its policies, procedures and practices. This policy has been equality impact assessed in accordance with this scheme.

JC and NC – 21 May 2013