When an employee makes the switch from a salary-based job to one that’s paid by the hour, some habits could keep them from receiving all of the pay they’re entitled to.
Those who are exempt from overtime pay or paid on a salary basis tend to develop working habits that accommodate their job expectations, such as checking emails while at home or on weekends, taking work calls after normal business hours, working late to finish a large project, eating at the desk or taking shorter breaks, not worrying about clocking out to run short errands, and more.
When overtime reform becomes official and these formerly salaried workers suddenly find themselves paid on an hourly basis, these habits can either lead to excessive overtime payments or worse, unpaid work, which could put the company in significant trouble.
Here’s a closer look at one way an hourly-paid employee who is not exempt from overtime pay could actually be missing out on compensation he or she is entitled to:
The employee has a mobile phone with work email on it.
Put simply, hourly paid or nonexempt employees should not have the company’s email on their phones. Even taking a few minutes to quickly check or respond to an email message is considered work.
The company may have some recourse by saying it did not know or expect a nonexempt employee to check emails during off hours, but the very act of emailing an employee after regular working hours can be considered a call to work, and the fact the employee has work emails on the phone, to begin with, implies that the company suffered and permitted the employee to work at any time.
The same philosophy can be applied to other phone-related technology as well, including taking calls, texting with your manager or co-worker regarding work (other than de minimus calls or texts such as weather-related closures or calling in sick), researching on the web, posting updates for the company’s official social media pages, or any other number of work-related activities that can be easily done from mobile devices at any time.
The company must prepare to pay the formerly overtime-exempt employees for performing these tasks after regular hours, or make a clear, enforced policy banning after-hours work and adjust job and deadline expectations to accommodate it.
For human resource guidance or help navigating overtime reform, please contact Nextep’s HR team.