Out-Of-Office Smartphone Use: Risks For Employers

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The proliferation of smartphones and personal digital assistants has afforded many American workers the ability — for good or ill - to stay connected to their work when they are not actually in the workplace. This allows greater productivity for their companies because business-related communications can be made where ever the worker happens to be and at virtually any time of day — even, one might say, on their own time .

Until quite recently, companies provided smartphones and BlackBerrys only to managers and professionals, and they generally fall under the so-called "white collar" exemption to federal wage-and-hour laws. But, as the use of company-supplied and personally owned personal digital assistants (PDAs) and smartphones has trickled down from the executive suites into the hands of hourly workers, who are not exempt from the overtime-pay requirements of federal law, their employers are at risk for claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for unpaid wages, failure to pay overtime or failure to keep accurate records of hours worked.

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