Do You Get Paid for Working on Your Mobile Devices Outside of Office Hours?

One of the major upsides of mobile technology is that you can work anywhere. One of the major downsides of mobile technology is that you can work anywhere.

I remember when I was interviewing for my first job out of college. Company cell phones and laptops were touted as “benefits.” It wasn’t until I started working tons of extra hours that I realized these gadgets benefited the company much more so than myself.

I know that in this economy a lot of people would love to be overworked by a company rather than being unemployed, but at least some companies are taking advantage of employees by tethering them to work with smartphones and computers.

The Wall Street Journal published an article today that discusses two lawsuits filed on behalf of employees that weren’t paid for the hours spent on calls and responding to work-related messages on smartphones after clocking out for the day. Where do you draw the line?

The current and former T-Mobile employees say they were required to use company-issued smart phones to respond to work-related messages, including customer complaints, after hours without pay. When the workers reported the hours to management of the cellphone company, the lawsuit says, the employees were told nothing could be done and they should expect to work extra hours as part of T-Mobile’s “standard business practices.”

My father, and many of his colleagues that work in the construction field, have no qualms about picking up work-related phone calls after hours. But they also jot down a note to remind themselves to tack that time onto their timecards at the end of the week or bill somebody for it. If they call comes on a weekday after hours they get paid time and a half, on weekends it’s double time.

When I used to work in a corporate job it was expected that you check your email before and after work. If a boss had a question about a deal or project he had no problems calling during dinner time or over the weekend. There was no such thing as overtime. The same goes for just about everyone that I know that works in the corporate world. They take calls, respond to emails and complete projects from home, but don’t get paid a dime for pulling all nighters away from the office.

Technically (at least in California) workers are supposed to be paid for each hour they work, unless they are exempt managers. But in a lot of offices everyone except entry-level workers are labeled as managers and paid a fixed salary, despite the fact that the only thing they “manage” are themselves. This can lead to awkward instances of entry level employees getting paid more than those with several years of experience for the same hours of work.

In some lines of work, being “on call” is expected, but I don’t think it’s fair for companies to reign over every last waking moment of employees’ lives without fairly compensating them.

How does your company treat your time away from the office and do they have policies for compensating you when you’re using a mobile device outside of normal work hours?