Out of Office

During the summer months, with people on vacation or otherwise disinclined to come into the office, we face a variety of questions in the area of employment law.

One issue that keeps coming up is that of smartphone use. We’ve dealt with privacy and security issues as they relate to mobile devices, but we haven’t talked about smartphone use as an overtime issue.

While there are many exemptions (such as certain categories of work and certain remuneration structures), in some cases, employees who are expected to respond to telephone messages or e-mail while away from the office, are entitled to remuneration for that working time.

While many critics argue that given the amount of time at the office spent playing Angry Birds or surfing Facebook, the trade-offs should cancel each other out – the law doesn’t see it that way.

If your employees are expected to work outside of office hours and your contracts or policies don’t cover this scenario, then you should be in contact with your legal advisor before you face a claim from an unhappy employee – or one of those fun Ministry of Labour investigations.

Scott R. Young