I love my Blackberry Bold. And I know many others that praise the virtues of an iPhone or other PDA device.
But recently, questions have been raised about the use of these devices by non-exempt employees — in other words, those employees who are eligible to receive overtime. If these employees are reviewing their messages outside of work, do they need to be compensated for that time?
Recently, my colleagues, Joshua A. Hawks-Ladds and Megan M. Youngling prepared an article for the Connecticut Law Tribune supplement on this subject that you can download here. It is worth reading because it discusses an answer to this question.
While the law is still developing here, they conclude that:
[A]fter-hours PDA use increases an employer’s exposure for overtime and record-keeping liabilities, as well as the possibility that nonexempt employees will not be properly compensated for all time actually worked in violation of the FLSA and state wage laws. The practices and policies that many employers currently have in place for after hours work may no longer “fit” today’s PDA environment.
Employers must reexamine their current policies and procedures and revise them to reflect PDA usage. They must also reexamine their employees’ exempt versus nonexempt status. Once appropriate policies governing PDA usage are in place, they must be adequately communicated to employees and then enforced. Policy violators should be subjected to appropriate discipline. Following these steps should limit the risks PDAs pose to employers under the sate and federal wage laws.
As I’ve said before, there are a lot of issues right now for a human resources department. But ensuring compliance with wage and hour laws should continue to remain a top priority for employers.