December 22, 2023 at 3:42 pm

HR Wants IT Employee To Get A Cell Phone And Be On Call 24/7 With No Raise, So He Picks The Most Expensive Possible Cell Plan To Prove A Point

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Reddit/AITA

It can be wild to think about what expectations came along with cell phones, whether they’re social or work-related. We went from being left alone outside of work hours, or able to set our limits for social interactions, to having almost no way to enforce boundaries a all.

OP works in tech support, and seeing the writing on the wall, had refused to get a cell phone. He suspected his hours and scope of duty would expand but his pay would not.

I work in IT.

Some are surprised that I tended to shun cell phones for most of my career (I didn’t get one until about 2013), but a BIG part of the reason was that I knew that .. working in IT .. if I had one, my employer would expect me to be on call basically 24/7 with no additional pay or anything.

There was/still-is a social expectation that you answer your phone (or at least reply via sms/txt) no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Out on a nice date? Too bad, boss is calling. Dinner with the spouse? Too bad, boss is calling. Driving your kids to some important medical thing? Too bad, boss is calling.

If/When you aren’t quick on answering calls/messages its always a talking-to the next day at the office (despite the fact that 99% of your job can be done remotely, but thats another topic).

Always been this way for IT staff, won’t ever change.

This all came to a head after an employee blew up not being able to get help after hours. He emailed just about everyone in the company who had any pull, and OP was asked – then told – to get himself a cell phone.

So, early in my career – around 2005ish – I worked at an SMB of around 50 people.

Helpdesk and network admin, working for an “IT Manager” who had no real technical skills to speak of (didn’t understand IP addresses, how or why different versions of MS Office have slight variations in the user interface, didn’t understand how flexLM floating license checkouts work, etc) BUT was good with crystalreports so they were the IT manager and I was the flunky.

This person spent about 80% of their time micromanaging my time and making sure I wasn’t idle for so much as 5 minutes of my day.

At one point, a person in another department who was working late had some trivial nonsense problem with Microsoft Excel that absolutely 100% could have waited until the next morning to resolve, but was annoyed that the IT Manager was beyond clueless to solve his issue at 7:45pm and the regular helpdesk/networkadmin guy didn’t have a cell phone he could call for off-hours support, so he complained.

He complained the next morning by storming into the IT office and berating us (the IT manager and I) about how unacceptable the situation was, and then sent a five page follow-up email CC’ed to half the company (including the entire executive staff) about how intolerable it was that his dumb pivot table crap didn’t get resolved in the late evening.

So a couple of days later I get pulled into a meeting with the IT manager and the HR lady.

Yes, even though there would be no money to pay him for the extra hours.

Reading the room, it felt like I was about to get fired or something (not for nothing but I was quite good at my job, and when I eventually quit a couple of years after all this it took them over a year to find a replacement) but it was far worse.

They wanted me to get a cellphone.

I politely declined, which they were prepared for as they told me the company would pay for me to get a phone.

I asked if I was going to get any kind of salary increase if I was going to be expected to actually answer it. My original employment agreement didn’t include any on-call stipulations.

I was told there wasn’t any money in the budget for that, which was a blatant lie. The CEO sent us the quarterly earnings every quarter.

So, OP said he would do it if he could pick his own phone and plan – and chose one that would make them think twice before calling him after work hours.

So I said that I’d take a company issued cell phone, and I’d even answer it after hours without demanding more pay, on ONE condition. I got to pick the phone and the carrier. They were delighted, agreed in writing, and were almost giddy as I got up and left the room.

I found a Motorola Razr (at the time, a new and very expensive phone) from NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese phone company, that had the right kind of compatibility to work on the North American cell phone network, but retained a Japanese phone number and had an international roaming plan.

I went out of my way to find the worst possible plan, and calling the phone would have incurred TWO-WAY international long distance calling, plus the per-minute international roaming fees and all that, and based on some quick math it would have cost them over $5 per minute in total to call me.

A day or two after the meeting with my boss and the HR lady, I requested the follow-up and presented the phone and plan I had picked out. It was clear from the body language that they couldn’t tell if I was kidding or not.

The HR lady finally realized I was dead serious, and asked why I picked something so expensive.

I said with complete honesty “I find it almost offensive that you want me to be theoretically on-call for an unlimited amount of time outside of the office, potentially disrupting literally everything I do outside of work hours, but weren’t willing to offer me even one penny in compensation. Well, if someone wants to call me for support after hours, somebody somewhere is going to pay for that call .. one way or another …”

They never asked him to get a company cell phone again.

The top comment is loving the power move.

Source: Reddit/AITA

It’s on the same level.

Source: Reddit/AITA

This is another way to manage it.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Some parts are boring, but policy manuals can also be downright fascinating.

Source: Reddit/AITA

I wouldn’t be answering my cell phone then.

Source: Reddit/AITA

The absolute gall of some employers.

Who would agree to work for free?

If you liked that post, check out this one about an employee that got revenge on HR when they refused to reimburse his travel.