Lawyers are saying that checking work-related emails outside work should be considered overtime and paid as such.
With the growing use of smartphones and tablets that allow users to check e-mail and respond to texts, the number of people performing their duties while out of the office is growing. Studies have shown that half of those people who use email at work also do so at home, slightly less on sick days, and about a third on vacation.
According to usovertimelawyers.com, though many employees regularly do work online outside of normal working hours, few are actually paid overtime for the time spent. While it’s hard to avoid working off the clock due to technological advancements, employees may at least be entitled to overtime pay for work-related phone usage.
Chicago police Sergeant Jeffrey Allen claims in a lawsuit that the city owes him and fellow officers overtime pay for the use of department-requisitioned BlackBerry phones off the clock. If the lawsuit prevails, it could mean millions of dollars in back pay.
According to the Huffington Post, workers everywhere are effected, Allen’s lawyer Paul Geiger said Wednesday:
“Everybody can relate to this because people are being asked all the time these days to work for free and they are being told to work for free using their phones.”
Police brass pressured subordinates in the organized crime bureau to answer work-related calls and emails on their BlackBerrys and then also told them not to bother asking for overtime. One plaintiff filing states:
“A culture has developed where police officers feel compelled to work for free in order to possibly gain a promotion and/or maintain their coveted assignment.”
The question remains how such overtime is recorded, as it can be easy for some to abuse the system for extra pay.
What do you think? Should work-related emails, texts, and phone calls off the clock be considered overtime, as lawyers suggest?