Clocking Out: Shutting Off The Brain

“The proliferation of phones and PDAs also brings with it wage and hour liability, Weitz says. As HR managers well know, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay nonexempt employees for all hours worked. Therefore, if nonexempt employees make employment-related cell phone calls from home during off-duty hours, that time is probably “hours worked” according to the FLSA. And that’s true even if they say, “Oh, I don’t mind making a few calls.”

This quote from the HRAdvisor of BLR to me to thinking. Our laws almost require us to forget about non-exempt employees once they walk out the door. Because if you contact them by phone or email then you have to pay for the time and track the time as well. If you don’t you get penalized by the Department of Labor, under a violation of the FLSA. And forget about having them think about work and doing something about it. In fact you have to discourage that. Certainly not a very good model for employee engagement. You work at getting people excited about their jobs and then you have to have them “shut it off” when they walk out the door.

Maybe in the days where most people worked on “things” and engaged in manual work that was easy to do. But in today’s economy where many employees work with intellectual “things” it seems to me to be harder to shut off. How do you get a non-exempt employee to shut off their brain when they get home? Well, I guess you have them watch American Idol…

What do you think?

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