“My employee, Jane, occasionally responds to my emails in the evening. I don’t expect her to respond from home but she does. Now she’s asking to be paid for that time. Do I have to pay her?”

Yes, you do owe her if she’s an hourly employee. You may even owe her overtime if checking her email took her over 8 hours that day. Now that everyone seems to have a smart phone capable of receiving work emails and voice mails, you need to consider your options.

• Make sure everyone knows not to send emails or voicemails to non-exempt employees outside of business hours. This can be impractical because exempt employees are able to work varied hours and you don’t want to hamper their workflow.

• End the ability for certain employees to access emails and voicemails from personal devices. However, if your employees are required to use their personal devices during their workday, this won’t be an option for you.

• Create a policy stating non-exempt employees are not expected or allowed to read or respond to emails or voice mails outside of normal work hours. While it won’t be difficult to create the policy, you need to be prepared to uphold your policy by disciplining employees who break it.

Don’t ignore any after-hours work your non-exempt employees might perform. If they are doing anything work-related, you’ll need to pay them for that time.

About Your Columnist

CJ Westrick is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers all things human resources and managing people in the workplace. CJ Westrick, SPHR, has been in human resources (HR) management for over 20 years and has maintained her SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) national certification since 2002. She started HR Jungle, a human resources consulting firm, in 2006 to provide senior-level HR expertise to businesses without internal HR.

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