Most of us have read in the news about proposed changes to federal overtime rules, many of which are long overdue and worker-friendly. But have you heard about email curfews? This is one measure being considered by some employers to help keep their overtime exposure down after the new rules are implemented.
The Fair Labor Standards Act protects many employees from working more than 40 hours in a workweek without proper compensation. After a nonexempt employee’s “hours worked” exceed 40, he or she is entitled to be paid at a rate of one and one-half times his or her regular pay rate. This is often called premium overtime pay.
One of the proposed changes to the regulations would raise the base pay rate before an employee could be eligible for exemption from premium overtime pay. The legal community expects that this change will result in significantly more people being paid more premium overtime.
Employers expect the same thing, so they are implementing measures to keep overtime at bay. One of the ways they will do this is to make sure that employee work hours do not exceed 40 in a workweek. To be off the clock legally, employees must be completely relieved of their job duties. That means they cannot be required to answer phones during lunch or check email from home in the evenings.
Enter the email curfew. Some employers are considering prohibiting employees from using email after hours, at least with any regularity. Email curfews will likely be written into company policy, and violations will likely be punished.
Smart employers will write in an exception for emergencies and managerial requirements. And smart employers will punish managers who require employees to be responsive when they’re supposed to be off the clock. But they still can’t refuse to pay you if your hours worked exceed 40 in a workweek.
So yes, employers can impose email curfews. Make sure you keep up with employer policies, guidelines, and memos so you’ll know if one applies to you. Contact Labor Law Office, APC today to speak with an experienced wage law attorney in Sacramento.
Sacramento, CA 95821