Overtime for answering email out of hours? What about Tweeting?

Overtime for answering email out of hours? What about Tweeting?

Summary: Brazil has passed a law allowing workers to ask for overtime for answering emails out of working hours. What does that mean for workers responding to corporate social media communications?

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Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil, passed a law last month that allowed workers to ask for overtime if they answered emails out of working hours.

According to TheStar.com, new legislation says that company emails to workers are equivalent to orders given directly to the employee and that they are entitled to ask for overtime pay. Brazil is not alone in respecting employees wishes to have some email free time out of working hours.

Volkswagen has also respected union wishes and turned off push email to workers' BlackBerrys out of hours. Volkswagen turned off notifications after pressure from the unions, not from legislation.

Global adoption?

But this is a new law. And it might be a precedent. Other countries might decide to follow Brazils' lead and adopt similar legislation.

This raises a few questions for those involved in social activities and community management for their bosses.  Do these other activities also classify as 'work'?

You might spend time throughout the evening, dealing with company social media feeds, responding to comments on blogs, dealing with customer queries and monitoring nascent PR issues.

If so, then it can reasonably be classed as 'work' -- especially if social CRM is part of your job.  Heck, I'm even writing this post 'out of hours' for my local time zone. Would I be able to ask for overtime too?

Flexible working

We are, however, living through a global recession. Would you really feel comfortable asking your employer for overtime?  Are you secure enough in your work to do this for answering emails and responding to customer tweets out of hours?

Asking for overtime doesn't necessarily mean that you will receive any extra pay -- in fact, many employment contracts include a section or clause asking you to work outside of your normal working hours.

For example, a company might include wording stating that 'your working hours will be 'x' to 'x' 'and all other hours that may be necessary to complete your work'

What about workers with caring responsibilities? You might leave work early to collect children, or to care for a relative. You might even leave work early to avoid rush hour traffic.

You might catch up with email and social feeds at home later in the evening, after dinner perhaps. When would you start to claim overtime? I can see the potential for a fair few arguments.

Brazil has been bold in creating this legislation. I don't think any other country will implement a similar law. Imagine the furore and resistance from some.

But if it does become law, how would your company manage the demands of your workforce, and as a worker, would you demand your overtime pay?

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Topics: CXO, Collaboration, IT Employment

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10 comments
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  • RE: Overtime for answering email out of hours? What about Tweeting?

    I am management.. And over the years in IT have realized that the more you do the more is expected. Therefore once i step out the door i do not answer phone calls texts email etc. Period unless i am going to be paid to be on call then whatever will be there on Monday.
    MLHACK
  • RE: Overtime for answering email out of hours? What about Tweeting?

    Unlike @MLHACK above, my philosophy is I'm hired to do a job (CIO), not work X hours/week. So If I have to answer email, etc., I do.

    However, I do understand where he's coming from.
    r_rosen
  • RE: Overtime for answering email out of hours? What about Tweeting?

    Assuming your not an "exempt" employee, ask for OT, don't get it, file a complaint with the DOL for a violation of FLSA, watch your employer (soon to be ex-employer?) pay TRIPLE OT for ALL work for ALL employees similarly situated! Good times, good times!!
    Tom_A
  • RE: Overtime for answering email out of hours? What about Tweeting?

    People that answer email regarding work on off time deserve the problems that come with it. Go on, work for free, ....ya twit. When you are off work, you are off work. YOU create problems for your employerby bringing in the liability on your boss. If you own the business, do as I do...work all the time. How do I know its time to work> The sun is up so its time to work. However, you guys that are w2 or 1099 people, use your bain here. Or, come work for free for me, ...ya twit. OIf you cannot divide work from personal, I question your mental abilities. I'll be more than happy to screw you over, ya twit.
    vegasexcitement
    • RE: I'll be more than happy to screw you over, ya twit.

      @vegasexcitement <br><br>First off, your name is slightly wrong, is should read (taking the nature of your comments in consideration) [i]vegas exc[s]it[/s][b]r[/b]ement[/i].<br><br>Secondly, whether or not should really be conditioned on the nature of the employee/employer relationship. An employee who works for an employer that is willing to be flexible, should, offer similar flexibility. But, if you would rather describe your employer as rigid and inflexible; or downright hostile and nasty, then treating them as [b]excrement[/b] is fair game.

      Note to webmaster: Please [b]fix the formatting bug in this commenting platform.[/b] If you use formatting in a comment, and edit it, you lose the formatting. Arrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh!
      fatman65536
  • RE: Overtime for answering email out of hours? What about Tweeting?

    I say good for Brazil, but I doubt it will go over elsewhere.

    In my industry, working hours are restricted by government regulations. Days off are required, but the job must be done. Even phone calls beyond 30 minutes cumulative count as time worked. Employees are required to charge the time, which then often forces the employee to take a day off work later in the week. This seriously reduces the hours paid as well as makes it even more difficult to staff for the job at hand.<br>Why the heck regulators have to make the rules so complex is beyond me. When in the field we WANT to work as much as possible. They've obviously never traveled and been separated from their families for work.
    Cobranut
  • RE: Overtime for answering email out of hours? What about Tweeting?

    A bold exception to the long-standing trend to regard employees as chattel. A lot of employers make a lot of hypocritical noise about "balancing work and life", but wait until you try to actually do it!
    CSwa913102
  • RE: Overtime for answering email out of hours? What about Tweeting?

    I have worked for 30 years in IT, in many positions: operator, programmer, systems analyst, project manager, department manager, as an amployee as well as consultant. Unless being specific on-call, when all is legit, there are way too many calls made due to lack of consideration.
    After answering emails and phone calls before and after hours for years and vacationing with a laptop, I started classifying the calls in categories:
    - unexpected and urgent, requires immediate attention: less then 5%
    - unexpected, low impact, can wait at least till next business day: about 25%
    - gee, I forgot and I think I should tell you right now cause I'm to disorganized to remember it next business day: 70%
    The conclusion: the vast majority of after/before hours calls are made by someone being rude and placing too little value on other people's privacy and rest. Should I jump and take all the calls indiscriminately? NO is the only answer for any employee with self-respect. If my boss insists on getting an immediate answer at all times for trivial items, it???s probably time to move on to a company that shows more respect to its employees.
    rotvic
  • RE: Overtime for answering email out of hours? What about Tweeting?

    I have worked for 30 years in IT, in many positions: operator, programmer, systems analyst, project manager, department manager, as an amployee as well as consultant. Unless being specific on-call, when all is legit, there are way too many calls made due to lack of consideration.
    After answering emails and phone calls before and after hours for years and vacationing with a laptop, I started classifying the calls in categories:
    - unexpected and urgent, requires immediate attention: less then 5%
    - unexpected, low impact, can wait at least till next business day: about 25%
    - gee, I forgot and I think I should tell you right now cause I'm to disorganized to remember it next business day: 70%
    The conclusion: the vast majority of after/before hours calls are made by someone being rude and placing too little value on other people's privacy and rest. Should I jump and take all the calls indiscriminately? NO is the only answer for any employee with self-respect. If my boss insists on getting an immediate answer at all times for trivial items, it???s probably time to move on to a company that shows more respect to its employees.
    rotvic
  • RE: Overtime for answering email out of hours? What about Tweeting?

    Good for Brazil but I agree with Cobranaut that it is unlikely to be widely adopted. Sadly, particularly in the US, there is an unspoken expectation that there are no off hours. The downturn in the economy has made employees fearful of setting boundaries and has been used by some employers as a license to abuse their overworked staff. Time away from the office is not only healthy for the individual but the business but until enough people stand up for what is right, the always on trend shows no sign of changing.
    karenswim@...