“Require that employees get permission first before using their BlackBerrys after work hours”

by Walter Olson on April 23, 2008

Otherwise, the employer may just be setting itself up for wage-hour suits based on the premise that the after-hours use constitutes uncompensated overtime, says Mitch Danzig, “an attorney in the San Diego office of Boston-based Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo. Danzig advises his clients to give BlackBerrys only to employees who are exempt from overtime laws. ‘Plaintiffs’ firms are trolling for this,’ he said. ‘Now what you’re seeing on [plaintiffs'] firms’ Web sites are, “Have you been assigned a BlackBerry or a phone? If so, give us a call.”‘” (Ashby Jones, WSJ law blog, Apr. 22; Tresa Baldas, NLJ, Apr. 28). More: Jeffrey Hirsch, Workplace Prof Blog.

{ 4 comments }

1 Jim Collins 04.23.08 at 8:21 am

I can actually understand this one. I worked at a job for several years that required me to be on call two nights a week. Because this was in the pre-cell phone era, the only way for me to do this was to sit at home by the phone. Not being availible to take a call was a firing offense, but we were only paid if we were called out. My current position requires me to deal with company branches in other time zones, so I’m getting phone calls and e-mails at all hours of the day and night, but I am only paid if I have to go into the office to resolve these issues. I feel that any time my employer restricts my free time or that I am conducting business for them, I should be compensated.

2 Greg 04.23.08 at 11:45 am

I actually agree with this one. The better approach, though, is to compensate people for this time. My current position allows me to put anything work-related I do on my timesheet, in 6 minute increments. This means that every email or phone call I answer when I’m out of the office, I’m gonna get paid for.

I couldn’t imagine a company not paying for this time. It’d be getting something for nothing.

3 AZFlyer 04.23.08 at 7:06 pm

I have been on call since the early ’80s (you should have seen the pagers back then!). I am an exempt employee, but since I can’t stray too far from my home or office, my company does pay me for the inconvenience of being on call. They didn’t do this when I first started working there, but after pointing out that my free time is somewhat restricted by their electronic leash, they agreed to pay. Time spent actually working off-hours is compensted with an equal amount of time off, but I still get paid for being on call, even when they do not call me.

If an employer wants to infringe on your personal time, let them pay for the privilege. If they won’t, you should consider finding a job where you are more appreciated

4 Joseph K 04.23.08 at 9:45 pm

This is completely farcical. People are always looking for new ways to get more money without having to do more work. If you don’t think you’re getting compensated for all the work you do, then go to your boss and tell him. If your boss doesn’t want to give you a raise which you think you deserve, find another job. This is something between you and your employer. Why does regulation always have to swoop in and try to find every way to increase unemployment (by raising cost of employing someone) under the guise of protecting workers? And, of course, there are plenty of lawyers willing to swoop in and get their cut of this. The only effect of this is that people who might have been given a blackberry from work, don’t get one. Another home run for legislation!

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