The Blackberry Dilemma: Paying for the 24/7 Work Culture

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The arrival of BlackBerrys, PDAs and other forms of remote access has been hailed as a godsend for those looking for additional flexibility and options to keep in touch with our work. They provide more freedom to stay connected with work when away from the workplace and mean we are free to accept and handle work projects anytime and anywhere.

While that prospect is attractive to many employers and employees, it raises difficult issues. One is the psychological issue: BlackBerrys create a feeling of the "24/7" working environment, which in turn may contribute to stress and "burn-out". Discussion of this issue is common in the career section of newspapers. In February of this year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada banned its employees from using BlackBerrys between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., for the stated reason of cutting down work stress.

A further issue, one not discussed as often, is compensation: is an employee entitled to be paid for using a BlackBerry or logging in for work purposes at night or on weekends? If so, what options are available to employers to minimise or manage that liability?

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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