Saturday, February 12, 2011

Employer indirect control of "off-duty" time when on call can become an issue

Use of “times and materials” resources ought to be a two-way deal in the employment world.

Many salaried and hourly (both) jobs require people to be available quickly on-call. Typically, the law doesn’t require compensation for time not worked and is pretty stingy on how it interprets the ability of the employee to use his own time for his own purposes (to leave the home or access to the computer, for example, to go to a show or an event).

Here’s a basic link on workplace fairness.  

Here’s OSHA’s basic link on the issue. 

On the issue of employees “exempt” from overtime pay requirements, the DOL has a definitive link ("Elaw").  Notice that “hourly” W-2 IT contractors would be exempt from the time-and-a-half requirement if they make a minimum rate (about $28 an hour) and have certain kinds of duties.   While managers and administrators are normally exempt, so could certain other kinds of people (such as commissioned).

Businessweek has a link on the issues that occur when employees are tethered to their jobs, link here.  It seems that employers may be under very little obligation to compensate exempt employees (especially “supervisors”) for the time their lives are compromised.  Hourly may be another matter, but it may depend on how quickly an employee must be available.

One problem is that performance effectiveness (as measured by the employer quantitatively with quotas or statistics) may depend on the ability of an employee to take a cell phone call from a client, or climb right on to a computer which, even if left on, must be available to the person (it probably wouldn’t be if the person is at a movie or in a disco, for example).

It’s a long trek for employees, who are told they’d better use social media to project an image that will impress employers than say what they think should be said. Employers, after all, can use employment at will and cut people at will.   The Libra scales are not in balance.

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