Wage & Hour Laws -- Employee

Overtime Pay for Work Done Outside of the Office

Smartphones and high-speed internet have provided many people with the opportunity to work remotely. In many white-collar jobs, you no longer need to be at your desk to do your job successfully.

While there are many advantages to this, such as better work-life flexibility, many people have also discovered that they are almost always "on call."

While it may only take you two minutes to respond to a text or five minutes to take a work phone call on your personal time, this is an intrusion on your personal time that previous generations did not have to contend with. Many employers take it for granted that their employees will be readily available during most, if not all, of the employee's waking hours, but are employees being compensated for the actual work that they do once they leave the office? Should they be paid?

Nonexempt Employees are Entitled to Compensation

Exempt employees, or employees who receive a salary, are not entitled to overtime pay. Nonexempt employees, those who receive an hourly wage, are entitled to overtime pay.

Everyone else is entitled to overtime pay for the actual work that they complete. Overtime pay is not something that you and your employer can waive. The law requires that you receive it.

The law does not distinguish between overtime work performed at the office and remote overtime work. Both types of overtime work must be compensated for nonexempt employees in the United States.

What Does 'Required or Permitted' Mean?

An employer is responsible for compensating a nonexempt employee with overtime pay if the employer required or permitted the employee to work more than 40 hours in a seven-day workweek.

The phrase "required or permitted" is important, and employees should take note. An employer may not directly instruct you to participate in a conference call after hours or respond to every work-related text message within two hours. However, if your employer provides you with the technology to do these things and is aware that you are doing them, then the employer may still have an obligation to pay you overtime for any remote work.

This era of constant communication is going to continue. It is, therefore, important for employers and employees to work out ways to handle the issue of overtime.

You and your boss may agree, for example, that you will keep a careful record of all time worked remotely. Or, your boss may provide express and explicit instructions to you about what kind of overtime work will be authorized and what will not be compensated.