FLSA/Wages

Steps to Take Toward a (Smart) Smartphone Policy

In yesterday’s Advisor, we discussed the wage and hour compliance dangers of employee cell phone use; today, help with crafting intelligent cell phone policies.

Points to Consider for Cell Phone Policies

Employers may have to pay for the time taken by nonexempt employees to read and send e-mails after work hours or to deal with phone calls.

Under the de minimis rule, employers may disregard insubstantial or insignificant periods of time beyond the scheduled working hours, if, as a practical administrative matter, such time cannot be precisely recorded. If employees are checking e-mails for 2 or 3 minutes, or taking a quick call (Where’s the ABC file?), employers will likely not have to pay for this time. But if employees are spending 10 to 15 minutes after work hours, say, dealing with e-mail or talking to clients, employers will have to pay employees for this work time.

Many employers provide phones and other devices only to exempt employees and attempt to limit after-hours e-mail checking and business calls to exempt employees, and the employers instruct managers to avoid calling nonexempt employees after work.

However, most employees have their own smartphones, so this is hard to do.

If a business needs to provide nonexempt employees with phones or other devices, have a company policy prohibiting after-hours use, monitor employee use, and discipline employees for violating the policy. Remember that even if employees violate a company policy by reading and writing e-mails or taking calls after work hours, you may discipline the employees, but you still have to pay them for this time.


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What to Do

First of all, assess whether this is a potential problem for your business. Your type of organization may not be at risk. If you are, however, consider the following:

  • Get a gauge on the scope of the problem.
    • Decide how many nonexempt employees are likely to be doing company business after hours.
    • Conduct an informal investigation to see what is happening in the trenches. (You may have a policy that bans certain activity, but is it really having any effect?)
  • Craft a policy that covers the concerns you have.
  • Train employees on the policy.
  • And don’t forget to train supervisors and managers. They may be encouraging off-hours work.
  • Monitor and discipline as necessary.

Remember that if you do find that work has been done, you owe the employee for it, even if you forbade it.

Does it seem draconian? So does a class action lawsuit.

Equitable policies, recognizing work/life balance, and staying on top of wage and hour compliance—all are factors that can contribute to employee engagement. Engagement is what motivates people to not only feel dedicated to their job and their life, but also to feel rewarded by what they do and how they do it. It pushes people to look differently and go above and beyond, not because they have to, but because they want to.

With 68.5% of the US workforce identifying themselves as disengaged, resulting in $550 Billion a year in lost productivity, companies today cannot turn a blind eye to the importance of having a fully engaged team. How can your organization approach this issue? Fortunately there’s timely help in the form of a new webcast from SilkRoad—Coming Alive: Creating an Engaged Workforce. In just 60 minutes, you’ll learn everything you need to know engaging your carefully recruited employees once they become a part of your team.

Register today for this free (thanks to sponsor SilkRoad) interactive webcast.


Engagement must start the second a new hire walks through the door. Join us for a free interactive webcast, Coming Alive: Creating an Engaged Workforce. Earn 1 hour in HRCI Recertification Credit. Register Now


By participating in this interactive webcast, you’ll learn:

  • The Return on Investment (ROI) of engagement
  • How to achieve the ‘MAGIC’ of an engaged workforce
  • How your words and actions matter, starting on day one
  • Who owns engagement? Everyone is a CEO
  • Tips for getting back on track when employees detour into disengagement
  • And much more!

Register now for this webcast.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
1:00 p.m. (Eastern)
12:00 p.m. (Central)
11:00 a.m. (Mountain)
10:00 a.m. (Pacific)

Approved for Recertification Credit

This program has been approved for 1 recertification credit hour toward recertification through the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI).

Join us on Wednesday, April 8, 2015, for the free, in-depth Coming Alive: Creating an Engaged Workforce webcast.

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