We live in a society where the line between work and free time is too easily and too often blurred, but most employers still don’t have a policy in place to deal with working after hours.
“Technology and Its Impact on Employees During Nonworking Hours,” a new report from SHRM, found that a large majority of employers don’t have anything in writing dictating what their staff members can and can’t do when working outside of the office.
However, most typical employees still feel guilty if they don’t respond to emails at night or on the weekend, even if doing so is not technically part of their job description. That’s because most companies rely on organizational norms, not written policies, to dictate such behavior.
“Employers are not creating policies that delve into employees working outside of the traditional workday,” Evren Esen, manager of SHRM’s Survey Research Center, said in a press release. “Whether an employee responds to email at night or during the weekend is usually linked to organizational norms. If there is such an expectation, then employees are likely to follow suit.”
Some highlights of the report include:
- Only 21 percent of companies have a formal policy in place regulating the use of wireless communication devices during non-working hours.
- About 26 percent of organizations have an informal policy in place, while 81 percent of those rely on managers to relay rules to employees.
- Of the companies that don’t have any policy in place dealing with working after hours, 87 percent allow employees to set their own limitations.
- Employers are more concerned about how much their employees are working after hours if the work is being done on a company-owned device.
Ultimately, employers should make it a priority to develop an after-hours working policy, whether the employee is using company-provided equipment or not. Companies that have no policy in place could be leaving themselves open to lawsuits for not paying proper overtime.
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