Large corporations in Canada could soon be affected by a legal issue that is already plaguing companies around the globe. The use of company smart phones outside of traditional work hours is now leading employees to sue their employers for unpaid overtime.
The regulation of overtime pay is different throughout Canada. In Ontario for example, employees must be paid overtime for work exceeding 44 hours a week. Employees and legal experts are in agreement that work done via smartphone outside of work hours should be considered overtime. Canadian-based Scotiabank is currently involved in a class-action lawsuit with 5,000 employees claiming $350 million in unpaid overtime.
A national survey in the U.S. found that two-thirds of respondents check their work email before going in to work. The average check-in time was about 50 minutes before the start of a shift. Many employees also responded that they check their work email via smartphone before going to sleep. While this dedication to work is commendable, it’s hard for employers to track this work in a tangible way. One reason being that most employees with company smartphones are allotted the phone for personal use as well.
There’s no question that mobile technology has increased worker productivity tenfold. The only problem is the employees are not being properly compensated for their extra work. Some companies are working to find their own solutions to the problem. German automaker Volkswagen put in a system that block emails from company-issued smartphones 30 minutes after an employee’s set shift has ended. If class-action lawsuits start springing up throughout Canada, large companies will most likely follow Volkswagen’s example.
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