Overtime mandate for after-hours work phone calls

If the Obama administration follows through as expected with its new overtime edict, expect more employers to bar staff from using company email after hours; also, there will be fewer company-provided phones, a perk some may miss. [ABA Journal, Jon Hyman]


  • This unintended consequence is yet another example of the absurdities that will result from using an outdated statute from the New Deal in the 1930’s, originally meant to apply in factories, in the dramatically changed circumstances of commerce in the 21st century. It is a drag on the wheel of progress. Don’t expect Congress to correct the morass of regulations established by intrenched bureaucrats at the DOL, all of whom evince a progressive agenda as their guiding force, as there are too many sacred cows nurtured over its almost 80 years of existence that would have to be destroyed.

  • I think the issue here is making sure that if you are paid by the hour, you are paid for the hours that you worked. Some people only take the occasional short phone call outside of normal working hours, and I think that this is OK. Others, while only being paid for when they are in the office, are expected to field frequent long phone calls and answer e-mails 24/7, while not being paid for it. Perhaps, in a better world, there would be a way to distinguish between those situations, but I can see why this would be an area of concern to regulators. Of course employers are not going to like this, but if you pay by the hour, expect to pay for the hours worked. I remember talking to an employer (for a crappy job) who thought that if I came out when he called, but he didn’t have his stuff together for me to actually start the work he envisioned, that he didn’t have to pay me for the time I spent waiting for him to get ready, and who wanted me to “clock out” every time there was an employer-created work stoppage, then clock back in when he was ready. He then complained about US minimum wage law, suggesting that it would be better for him if he could hire children from Guatemala. We can argue about how much the government should dictate the direction labor contracts should take, but I believe that it is a basic obligation of government to enforce labor contracts and agreements as they exist.

    • Leland,

      The DoL is also looking at raising the salary floor for overtime exemption to $50K (It’s currently $23,660). This will bring millions of people who are currently overtime exempt salaried workers under these rules.