Should people get overtime for replying to off-hours messages?

“Anyone familiar with the ping of a late-night e-mail, a weekend call from a boss or a mid-dinner glance at a text message has felt the inescapability of work in the age of smartphones. But while constant connectedness has become the norm, it has also become a source of overtime litigation — and attorneys say that could increase under a proposal from the Obama administration to make millions more salaried Americans eligible for overtime, including many in managerial positions,” writes Chicago Tribune reporter Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz.

“As managers, they are more likely to be checking in during off hours,” said Phillip Schreiber, a Chicago-based employment lawyer at Holland & Knight who represents businesses and is not involved in the police suit.

The new overtime rule proposed by the Labor Department last month would raise to $50,440 the minimum salary an employee must make before he or she can be classified as exempt from overtime, which would be up from $23,660. The government estimates that would extend overtime pay to nearly 5 million salaried workers in a range of professions, from store managers to staff accountants, who currently are exempt under “white collar” provisions. The salary threshold doesn’t affect certain workers, including teachers, outside sales representatives and certain hourly computer professionals.

Today’s Question: Should people get overtime for replying to off-hours messages?

  • Dave M

    If you’re working, you should be paid. Period. It’s not charity.

  • bob hicks

    Off-hours is off-hours, so yes.

  • James

    Any employee who promises me that he or she works his or her full 8 hours a day, without any conversations with, or text messages to family or friends and no time online shopping or Facebooking gets O/T for responding to messages after hours. Currently, no one is getting O/T.

    • Jim G

      This kind of attitude is what unions love to here from employers. It makes signing up new members much easier. When you assume your employees are not putting in a fair day’s labor for a fair day’s pay, you get a whole different set of problems such as lower employee retention, and higher training costs over the long-term. If given a choice between a fair work to off-time policy and this attitude I wouldn’t work for such an employer.

    • Jim G

      No soup for you!

  • PaulJ

    If you are being treated as if you are expected to be on-call, then you should be able to reasonably expect that it will be included in your compensation, but the NSA shouldn’t be require to keep track of every time someone from work calls and asks where the toner is kept.

  • Abdi the American

    so where does a President get the authority to do this????
    So odd how many of these 1963 goals have been reached and even worse that GEORGE SOROS, supports the DNC, has gone public advocating for a One World Order and greater UN control? Obama took his Iran deal to the UN instead of first to our Congress..hmmm and we wonder why things have gone south in the past 8 years? Look at this list and then ask, is the president dictating employers pay rates within his authority or is he simply moving farther to the socialist side?
    How many of these 1963 goals have already been reached? shocking huh?

    CURRENT COMMUNIST GOALS (submitted to the 1963 Congressional Record)

    1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.
    2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
    3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would
    be a demonstration of moral strength.
    4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation
    and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.
    5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.

    6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.

    7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.
    8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev’s
    promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under
    supervision of the U.N.
    9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States hasagreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
    10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.

    11. Promote the U.N. as the ONLY hope for mankind. If its charter is
    rewritten, demand that it be set up as a ONE-WORLD Government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the U.N. as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other as they are now doing in the Congo.)

    12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
    13. Do away with ALL loyalty oaths. (2015_OBAMA wants this to happen with new immigrants! why? )

    14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.

    15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.(Bernie Sanders sociailist runs as a Democrat? OMG_ seriously and the DNC says nothing?)

    16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American
    institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.(ACLU at work)
    17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism
    and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of
    teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.

    18. Gain control of all student newspapers.
    19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or
    organizations which are under Communist attack.
    20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial
    writing, policymaking positions.
    21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
    22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic
    expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good
    sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and
    meaningless forms.”
    23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to
    promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”
    24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them
    “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
    25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and

    obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV. (DONE)
    26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal,
    natural, healthy.”
    27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with
    “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for
    intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”

    28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on
    the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and
    state.” (DONE ALREADY!)
    29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate,
    old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
    30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish
    aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.” (DONE ALREADY-Pearson publishing texts)
    31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of
    American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big
    picture.” Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took

    32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part
    of the culture–education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health
    clinics, etc.
    33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of
    the Communist apparatus.
    34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities. (DONE)

    35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI. (Half way there- dept is cut)
    36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions. (DONE before 1973)

    37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
    38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies.
    Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but
    psychiatrists can understand [or treat].

    39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.

    40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy
    divorce. (DONE since 1981)

    41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of
    parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to
    suppressive influence of parents.
    42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate
    aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups
    should rise up and use [“]united force[“] to solve economic, political or social problems. (riots from Black Lives Matter, Soros supported groups, Ferguson, Baltimore)

    43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready
    for self-government.
    44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.
    45. Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the
    World Court from seizing jurisdiction [over domestic problems. ( Obama supports this)

    • Yanotha Twangai

      Readers may safely ignore the above off-topic rant.

      • Abdi

        Readers should avoid Yanotha’s comment that uses denigration to avoid a response or thoughtful discussion. Saul Alinsky’s Book for Radicals must have told her to comment that way.
        Why not answer the question before discussing the pros and cons and effects of this Presidential order:
        “where does a President get the authority to do this?”
        This is why we left Pakistan_ for freedom not less.

        • Yanotha Twangai

          When you assume you know something and then rant about it, you make a fool of yourself. For instance, “her” is an incorrect pronoun for me, and I don’t recall ever having read anything by Saul Alinsky (although if someone of your ilk feels threatened by him, maybe I should). This question is about the limits of the intrusion of work into one’s personal life, and neither Saul Alinsky nor George Soros has anything to do with it. Therefore, readers may safely ignore your off-topic rants.

          • John Dilligaf

            The first sentence was on topic and you haven’t answered it. Allow me:

            I believe the president can suggest to the labor department how he thinks they should handle their various rules and regulations.

            I’m fairly certain the president would have talked to the Secretary of Labor (Thomas Perez) prior to announcing his diktat, and that Mr. Perez would take his suggestion seriously and make the rules/regulations he sees as necessary to implement that vision. We have so many bureaucrats making/enforcing rules that specific legislation isn’t necessary to fully intrude into an agreement between two parties.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            Exactly. The executive branch has authority to enact regulations (not laws), which is what the president was proposing to do with the proposed new overtime rules. That’s so basic that I didn’t think it needed to be answered, and the fact “Abdi” was asking it apparently as a rhetorical question was my first clue that he was launching on a clueless rant. (The second was spelling George Soros in all caps). As for getting overtime pay for responding to off-hour messages, that’s not mentioned in the proposed rules; it was merely a speculation about what litigation such rules might provoke.

          • John Dilligaf

            It’s a good practice to look at potential unintended consequences prior to changing the rules.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            …which is a valid point, but not one “Abdi” was making in his off-topic rant. It’s also why the rules are only proposed at this point, and why there’s a response period before anything actually gets changed. This uproar is yet another case of manufactured outrage by a knee-jerk right-wing ideologue who’s opposed to anything Obama does, just because he does it.

    • Don’t feed the trolls

      Thanks for writing George Soros in all caps so I knew immediately you were nothing but a copy/paste troll, and I could skip right past your ridiculous post.

      • Abdi

        The truth hurts so much you can’t address the fact? Just because SOROS is a billionair who created most of the Progressive groups, huge PACs with the Unions and just because he laughed aloud when he collapsed the British pound leaving millions of UK bereft of their retirement savings, doesn’t mean we can’t point him out as a undesirable socialist One World Order fanatic who has Hillary and Obama’s support, does it? You are entitled to your opinion but not to changing the facts on SOROS and the Progressive agenda.

        • Gordon near Two Harbors

          Your “facts” are one-sided and incomplete. I didn’t see a single word mentioning the Koch brothers–billionaires on the other side of the coin. No matter. Your views are those of a shrinking, dying, and increasingly desperate part of the electorate–soon to be dead, buried, and forgotten by modern Americans.

  • Lori

    If you are salaried and work a full day, I think you should get paid for off hours work. It’s cutting into your personal and family time. You can never get those hours back.

  • Wally

    I stopped giving freebies away to employers when I saw how well they had my back during the recession.

  • Joe the Democrat

    What about the salaried IRS and GAC federal workers that were caught wasting hrs every day watching porn on their work laptops? If the government can dictatee new rules without Congress than why do we have a Congress? What is so bad about an elected dicatorship as long as he does what he feels is best for all of us? Couldn’t Obama do an executive order to demand all employees join a union and then let the Unions negotaite these salaried rates?

  • whitedoggie44

    No, and if you think you should, meet me in HR with a box. I’ll replace you with a lower cost, more educated eastern european employee who does not whine at every perceived infringement of personal time.

    • PaulJ

      It’d be better still if the company was moved to eastern Europe, the profits and compensation kept in a Swiss bank and not available to be used in this country.

      • whitedoggie44

        We are a US based global company with 65% of our revenue originating offshore.

        in our case,, excessive regulation by Obama and his clueless regulatory czars increased our compliance cost to the point we had to shift thousands of jobs to eastern europe to reduce our expenses.

        Always interesting how democrats never understand the law of unintended consequences.

  • John Dilligaf

    If you’re hourly, the clock matters. If you’re on the clock, you’re on the clock. If you’re off the clock, you’re off the clock.

    If you’re salaried, it’s already built in to your salary, so shut up and reply to my emails while you’re on vacation.

  • reggie

    Defining a work-life balance should not be reduced to nickel-and-dime accounting. Just shut off the damn phone if you don’t want work calls. Maybe I work in an enlightened environment, but when I respond to my boss (or others) in the evening or on weekends, I occasionally get a thanks for my reply or action, but I can’t recall ever getting censured for simply turning off my work phone when I don’t want to be bothered after hours. Seems like a reasonable tradeoff, since I have been known, on occasion, to place an Amazon order during work hours… I once even called my mother from work.

  • Hunter

    Sure..more overtime regs by an out of control government that ignores the Constitution is what we don’t need. Lets face it, most of Congress is controlled by the donors and their issues and profit potential. Why else would Hillary support Planned Parenthood abortions and every one of our Democrat Senators vote against funding Planned Parenthood? Why is that, when the newest hidden videos prove they sell baby parts and all Dems are ignoring the illegality and travesty of this infanticide? Are we now like China that forced abortions of female babies? Obama has time to fart around with Cuba, make a deal that will allow Iran to receive billions which we all know will continue their funding terrorism that has killed our own Americans. But we talk about minor issues such as overtime? Seriously, is this how Franken got re-elected? Because we choose to allow our media to ignore the big issues such as our Senators absent record of working for us?
    Whats the next burning question of the day? It sure won’t be the stories on corrupt Planned Parenthood or even Hillary’s scandals and discovered lies.
    Will we see this instead? “Should we limit 32 oz soft drinks just as NY city liberals tried and then got shut down?” Worrying about soft drinks and weight control in NYC while they their shooting deaths are skyrocketing makes so much sense for the naive and uninformed. Yea- lets worry about a few who complain their salary isn’t enough without forced overtime. Brilliant.

    • Hunter Casas

      typo error corrected_
      and every one of our Democrat Senators vote against DE-FUNDING Planned Parenthood.

      • Gordon near Two Harbors

        Why would you want to INCREASE the number of abortions by removing funding for contraceptives for poor women?

    • Yanotha Twangai

      Another ignorable off-topic rant (unless you care to explain what the manufactured Planned Parenthood scandal has to do with overtime pay).

    • a_tribe_called_chris

      Way to stay on topic

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    Hard to enforce. If you are salaried, then being “on call” might be part of your job description, so no further compensation would be warranted. An easier solution is to turn off the damn, pinging device–and don’t worry about checking your work email until you are back at work. Pretty simple.

  • a_tribe_called_chris

    People need to learn how to have a true work life balance. Do you live to work or work to live?

  • Pearly

    Is the work being done on a company server or private server?

  • David P.

    A bit of a Catch-22.
    If I’m on call while on vacation, then I’m not really on vacation.
    If I’m unavailable while I’m on vacation, then I’m coming back to 100’s of emails, some that may well be critical.
    By checking in and staying caught up, I lose an hour or so each day of vacation, but I can save 100’s of hours and $$$$ by taking care of something ASAP, not two weeks too late.

  • scott44

    My “smart” phone is my own, not supplied to me. My boss knows it is not for work. If an emergency were to arise he can call and tell me I am needed at work. Then I get paid call out pay plus me overtime pay. He also knows when I am off work I would not answer an email or text. A text if, as said before, were an emergency I would just reply ” I am coming.” Thats it no more no less.