BLUF: Does anyone have experience with an Engineering organization requiring Engineers to be available to respond to top-priority customer issues outside normal business hours? Specifically, I'm looking for guidance on how to implement this new expectation (of 24/7 availability) where it did not exist previously.
I am one of several Engineering Directors in our Global R&D organization. The Support organization has asked that Engineering formulate a plan for Engineering to respond (with an actual Engineer) to a catastrophic customer situation (such as a production outage) that may occur outside normal business hours. We estimate that such a situation may occur two-to-four times a year across all product lines.
We have over 500 Engineers worldwide, but every engineer typically specializes in a very small (one or a few) number of products. Our Engineering teams are distributed across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., India, and Australia. Most (if not all) Engineers are salaried employees not eligible for overtime pay.
I volunteered to help organize this initiative among my peers. After some initial conversations, I believe that if we are asking Engineers to be "on call" on a 24/7 basis (and this was not a prior expectation of the position), then we are ethically obligated to offer additional compensation that goes along with this added responsibility. My HR group is currently researching this also, as I suspect employment laws in different regions will legally require us to adjust compensation.
I appreciate any thoughts, cautions, or other guidance from this community regarding implementing this new expectation.