Jeremy Roth, an attorney with San Diego-based Littler Mendelson, told The National Law Journal that he thinks it's only a matter of time before employees realize they can win legal claims for overtime payment related to BlackBerry-use while outside of work. And Roth says employers may have a tough time disputing claims because BlackBerry devices, and carrier service records, could be used as proof that the staffers were indeed using the devices during the times they claimed.
One important component of the issue is whether or not employees are contractually "exempt" or "non-exempt." Federal labor laws say that nonexempt employees are eligible for overtime compensation, while exempt staffers-typically managers, supervisors, lawyers, administrative employees and other professionals-are not entitled to overtime pay, according to The National Law Journal. So a possible route around thorny legal issues would be to deploy corporate devices only to exempt staff members. Organizations could also require staffers to get permission to use their BlackBerrys outside of the office, or like ABC, attempt to get them to sign waivers that acknowledge overtime pay is out of the question.
Personally, I use a single BlackBerry which I bought and pay for myself for work and play. And I'll admit it, I'm addicted. (The CIO.com BlackBerry Addiction Poll confirmed this fact.) But frankly, I don't expect to be paid for my use of the device beyond the nine-to-five, as I'm not required to do so. In other words, I don't ever have to respond to messages after I leave the office-though I frequently do. I realize this isn't the case for many of you, and perhaps you should be compensated, but I always have the choice of whether or not to wait until morning to respond to messages.
What's your take on the whole deal? If you're a corporate smartphone user, do you feel like you should be paid extra for the time you spend responding to messages, etc., during off hours? Or if you're a manager, smartphone admin or executive, do you think your staff should be compensated for their overtime BlackBerry use? Why or why not?
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.