The Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that employers compensate non-exempt employees for all overtime hours worked. What many employers fail to appreciate is that “work” encompasses not only to traditional tasks performed at a worksite. In this age of technology where communication can occur 24/7, various work-related activities conducted outside regular working hours are considered “work” for which employees are entitled to be paid, including off-site and after-hours communications, such as emails, texts, messages, and phone calls.
For instance, when non-exempt employees respond to work emails/texts/messages during evenings or weekends when they are otherwise off-shift, the time spent engaging in these communications is considered compensable work and should be factored into the calculation of overtime pay. Similarly, if employees are required to participate in work-related phone conferences outside of their standard work hours, the additional time dedicated to these activities qualifies as overtime.
Employers now take it as a given that they can communicate with their employees after hours, via email/text/messaging/phone. While such communication may be considered the “new normal,” employers are required to accurately track and pay for all compensable time, irrespective of the method or medium of communication. If non-exempt employees engage in work-related communications through emails, texts, messages, or phone calls after hours, when they are off the clock, they are entitled to overtime for those additional hours worked.