With the proliferation of smart phones, it is easier than ever to communicate. An employer may send a quick text or email after work hours, and expect a response. However, the ease of communication may lead to potential Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations and abuses.
Pursuant to the FLSA, non-exempt workers are entitled to be paid at a rate of one and one-half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in any one work-week. If employees are required to perform after-hours tasks, they are entitled to be paid for all time worked. This includes time spent responding to emails and texts. For example, if a boss sends an email during non-working hours, such as over the weekend or at night, and requests that an employee read it, this time may be compensable. Even if a boss doesn’t explicitly request the employee read it “off hours,” most workers feel pressure to read and respond to an email immediately. Not doing so, they fear, may put them at a disadvantage.
Further, case law supports the requirement that employers pay employees for even minimal time spent performing “off-hours” work. In fact, numerous cases have held employers responsible for paying overtime compensation where workers have had to spend as little as half an hour responding to emails and texts off hours. This reinforces the rule that employers must pay their employees for all their time spent working.
If you have questions about whether you are entitled to pay for time spent responding to work emails and texts after hours, or any other wage and hour issue, please contact the dedicated Georgia wage and hour attorneys at the Buckley Beal LLP for an immediate consultation.