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Jul 10 2008   2:50AM GMT

Workplace Blackberry’s are considered overtime even if you are on a salary

David Vasta David Vasta Profile: David Vasta

I have worked in places before that every notice, email, and phone call came in on my Blackberry and I was expected to get up at 2AM and answer emails. I argued then that this is overtime and even thought I am a salary employee I thought I deserved some compensation. With one particular company, who shall remain nameless, they told me to stuff it and be happy I have a job. That was the pep talk I needed that day. The sun set on that company and I moved on to better things.

Now I am starting to see people & companies get smart about after hours work. I don’t think the time after I leave the office is anyplace for a company to barge in and call you , unless something crazy is going on. I think there needs to be a line drawn in the sand and when I leave work for the day, if you call me and expect me to work you need to compensate me. Know saying this I have exceptions in my own life right now. I don’t get called all that much and the after hours work is small and far between so I am pretty darned happy with my current situation, but I know some of you out there are not and are doing what I used to do. Every time that Blackberry goes off you wake up or run to it because something could be failing or needing your attention.

To cure this companies need to either tell employees that if you spend over 40 hours a week working, then we need to bonus you or compensate you somehow. It is the companies responsibility to come to the employee, not the other way around. If the employee has to ask then we might as well unionize IT and start demanding things. Employers need to make the first move to fixing this problem, either pay for the hours worked or figure out a way to cover the after hours problems with more staff.

“As employers hand out electronic devices to their employees at a greater pace, there are growing concerns that workers eligible for overtime pay, known as non-exempt employees, could begin suing their employers for overtime hours earned while tapping on their devices during after-work hours. As a result, lawyers are advising their corporate clients to update their policies and handbooks related to BlackBerry use and reconsider who gets a device.”

To let this fall by the wayside is foolish and eventually companies will lose valuable employees. I know some people who have been with companies for over 10 to 15 years. They hold the keys to the IT universe and sadly even though everything is documented, when it breaks or needs a checkup the best way is to asked the seasoned veterans. These veterans are also getting older and expecting to take it easy and are not as willing as they were in their youth to wake up and start debugging at 3 Am because the Blackberry woke them up. So companies who need round the clock support need to think about it and start addressing the situation. It just is the right thing to do.

“Another option is for employers to ask non-exempt workers to leave the device at the office at the end of their work day, says Howard Lavin a partner at Stroock and Stroock and Lavan who has advised his clients on these types of policies.”

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3  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Gilly400
    Hi, I have a simple solution for this problem, I use it quite often - it's called the off switch. If I'm gonna get paid for the work, I'll leave it switched on, otherwise it's going off. Works perfectly for me. Regards, Martin Gilbert.
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  • Leah Rosin
    Hi David, Interesting legal impllications for sure. I agree with Martin, I think more people should use the off switch. But it's not always that easy. I saw this other blog on the same topic (well the first half is off-topic, but the second half is all about OT): [A href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-parker/next-prius-built-in-us-ka_b_112073.html"]Karoshi death by overwork tempes Toyota's good news[/A].
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  • David Vasta
    Gilly400 - Your just special. So I am guessing that you don't have to take support issues at night? If I were to turn it off they would just call my home number and ask me what is wrong with my Blackberry? One of my personal beliefs if that email is not a form of communication when you need something urgently. You call me and talk to me if you need something done urgently. Person to person hand off. That seems to work better, but some places don't see it that way and if they email you at 3 AM in the middle of a nice dream you had better wake up cause your our slave....no employee. Turning it off would solve that problem. -David
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