NHS staff are often asked to be “on call” as a part of their working pattern. Being on call means that you are not actively working, but you have agreed that your employer is able to call upon you if needed.
There are three distinct types of on call shift:
- On call at home: staff in these situations may either be equipped to work from home (e.g. a communications officer dealing with a media request) or able to commute in to their workplace in a reasonable amount of time.
- On call at work: on the work site but not currently working.
- Sleeping in: using on-site accomodation to rest or sleep whilst waiting to be called in.
Each of these types of shift is likely to receive a different level of pay, which can either be:
- A flat rate of pay applied to all staff (note: this option is rarely used).
- A percentage of usual hourly pay.
- A percentage of salary.
Pay should also take into account how often you are asked to perform on pay in a given space of time as part of your wider shift pattern. More intensive periods of on-call shifts should mean you receive higher pay.
However, like some other contractual elements such as notice periods, the on call pay calculation is not nationally agreed (even for staff under Agenda for Change). This means that it is essential to contact your HR team to understand the local arrangements for on-call pay. If you are joining a new NHS organisation you may wish to ask them about typical on-call arrangements for your role.