Smartphone Usage After Hours

Question:

Many of our employees have smartphones. Do we have to pay them for every time they use it outside of regular working hours?  I tell them not to respond until work hours but many of them still respond to emails and texts outside of work hours.  What do I do?

Answer:

This issue has exploded as of late!  Most employers and employees use smartphones, an ideal tool to improve efficiency, productivity, and accessibility for their employees.  It does, however, become an issue, because non-exempt employees must be paid for all hours worked…this includes hours responding to emails, phone calls, and texts outside of “regular” work hours.  This is probably one of the most common violations that Wage and Hour auditors are finding.

So what to do?  As an employer, you need to have a policy in place requiring tracking of smartphone usage, even restricting use outside of regular business hours, and make sure to tie it into your overtime policy.   That being said, managers then cannot email employees during those off times, and expect an immediate response, or even a response first thing in the morning.  IF you find out employees are replying outside of regular work hours you need to (1) address the issue in terms of performance and (2) make sure you pay them!

For exempt employees, smartphone usage can be less of an issue, however, it can pose a problem.  If these employees are working any part of the workweek, they must be paid for the entire week.  Some companies make it a policy that employees must relinquish all smart devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.) when they are going to be off but honestly, this can be somewhat unreasonable if you need to touch base on a client issue or a “quick question”.

Consider these issues when you create policy and determine how you will handle such issues with  employees – whether exempt or non-exempt.  The Department of Labor website, www.dol.gov offers guidance for managing these types of concerns and making sure you are paying employees for actual hours worked.

Strategic HR, inc. has the answers to all of your tough Benefits and Compensation related questions. Whether you need an audit of your exemption statuses or a job analysis of your positions, strategic HR inc. can do the job. Please visit our Benefits & Compensation page for more information.