Employers mull email curfews

by Walter Olson on December 7, 2013

Why would an employer adopt a rule forbidding employees from using company email after hours or on weekends? Simple enough: lawyers have been busily organizing class actions alleging that employees are owed millions for overtime spent on such tasks. And it doesn’t matter whether the employee wants to do his or her job that way or is responding to an emergency customer request: the legal entitlement to sue isn’t ordinarily waivable by consent. Hence “email curfews.” [Brianne Pfannenstiel, Kansas City Business Journal via Jon Hyman]

{ 7 comments }

1 Stephen Macklin 12.07.13 at 11:08 am

It used to be called working hard and was once considered to be the key to success.

The people demanding compensation for answering an email after hours are probably the same people that complain that other people are more successful than they are and demand equality.

News flash: employers tend to reward people who go the extra mile without bitching about it or bragging about it.

2 gitarcarver 12.07.13 at 12:22 pm

To me, the “dividing line” should be whether the employee is viewing / answering emails due to their own choice or whether their employer demands they view / answer emails away from work.

If an employee chooses to view emails, no compensation. If the company demands they view emails, they should be compensated.

3 Stephen Macklin 12.07.13 at 1:48 pm

To which any employer with half a brain would respond “it’s part of the job I pay you to do. If you don’t want to do it, work elsewhere. “

4 Bill Poser 12.07.13 at 5:05 pm

Salaried employees are not in a position to file such suits (unless they are misclassified). The plaintiffs in these suits are hourly employees. If the employer responds “It’s part of the job I pay you to do” he is conceding that the employees are working those hours and they are entitled to overtime pay.

5 MattS 12.09.13 at 12:02 pm

gitacarver,

If they are hourly employees, it doesn’t matter if it is their choice or not. It is illegal for an employer to allow hourly workers to voluntarily work off the clock. Reading / answering work related emails is working.

If these are overtime exempt salaried employees complaining about this, any lawsuit would be dismissed so fast that the plaintiffs head would be left spinning.

6 gitarcarver 12.09.13 at 3:18 pm

MattS,

By “choice” I meant that if an hourly employee was asked to monitor emails outside of scheduled hours, it should be their choice as to whether to accept what would essentially be overtime (or at least hours outside of the employment agreement.)

As for salaried employees, if there is an employment contract that says the employee works “x” number of hours, I am not sure that the employer can randomly say “you are working “x+y hours” without the agreement of the employee. I can’t see an employment contract being voided because the employer wants more work out of the employee.

7 Stephen Macklin 12.09.13 at 3:39 pm

Regardless of whether one is an hourly employee or salaried, I can’t see whining about looking at emails, or worse yet suing over it, as a way to get ahead in the world.

It’s idiotic short term thinking.

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