More flexible on-call time for ICT employees

2022 - 12 - 16
Article by: Karina Paatsi, Johanna-Britt Mikk

As on-call time is potential working time, the employer must allow daily and weekly rest periods when scheduling and implementing on-call time. This means that a full-time employee who works 8 hours a day (plus a half-hour break during the working day) can be subjected, by agreement, to 4.5 hours of on-call time a day. There is a practical need to put ICT employees on call for longer periods than currently allowed, so as to ensure service continuity and rapid emergency response times. Therefore, an exception is now granted for employees specifically engaged in ICT services, which allows the parties to deviate from the daily and weekly rest time requirements when agreeing on arrangements for on-call time.

The exception can only be applied to full-time employees responsible for ensuring the continuous operation of ICT services and infrastructure, or information security. On-call time must be implemented for that particular purpose. The field in which the employee provides ICT services is irrelevant (the exception can be applied in both the private and public sector).

The employee must be able to perform the work tasks that require a response during the on-call time using ICT tools without coming to the workplace. This means that the employee must be able to work remotely, for example, by means of a telephone or a computer, without going to the work premises.

To protect the health of employees, on-call time is limited to 130 hours per calendar month. The employer must also provide the employee with two weekends free from work and on-call time per calendar month, and make sure that the on-call arrangement does not harm the employee’s health and safety. To this end, the employer must, among other things, assess the risks associated with implementing the on-call time exception and instruct the employee to mitigate the risks.

The agreement on applying the on-call time exception must be in a format that can be reproduced in writing, such as an email. The agreement can also be included in the employment contract when first signing the contract. The agreement must include a response time during which the employee must start performing work tasks when requested by the employer. The response time must be reasonable and depend on the nature of the work.

The employer must pay 10% of the agreed salary to ICT employees for on-call time, similar to any other employee. If the employee is called to work during the on-call time, the respective part of the on-call time is considered working time, and the employee must be paid the agreed salary for it.

The parties may cancel the agreement on the on-call time exception at any time with notice of 30 calendar days. Therefore, the employer can cancel the agreement if there is no longer a need to apply the exception. The employee can also cancel the agreement if, for example, the arrangement no longer suits them.