Behind closed doors, business owners and executives nationwide are now strategizing about how to classify employees and make necessary pay changes by Dec. 1, 2016, in order to comply with new overtime rules. When the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published its changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime rules last month, it doubled the minimum salary for exempt workers to $47,476. That change triggered the need for companies of all sizes to review their existing employee classifications and evaluate different staffing scenarios in a quest to manage rising workforce costs and retain top talent.
One curve ball that business decision-makers now face: How to account for employees’ use of mobile devices like laptops and smartphones for work-related tasks, especially after hours. Are employees answering emails at night and on weekends? Are they taking work-related phone calls during their commute, after hours or on weekends? Do employees who telecommute regularly use mobile devices?
According to a recent Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index, the answer is yes to all of those questions. Approximately 25% of survey respondents admitted to working after hours on a regular basis, and about 40% of those employees work on weekends at least once a month. In addition, approximately half of employees surveyed felt they receive too much email, with about one-third of those saying that email overload impacts productivity.
There’s no question that mobile devices have changed how we work. They give employees greater flexibility to work from anywhere at any time – and this new mobility isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. According to an IDC study, U.S. Mobile Worker Forecast, 2015-2020, the mobile worker population in the United States is expected to increase from 96.2 million in 2015 to 105.4 million in 2020. The IDC forecast predicts mobile workers will account for 72% of the total U.S. workforce. Currently, healthcare workers represent the largest segment of the mobile workforce, accounting for 18% of the total U.S. mobile worker population (including office- and non-office-based healthcare workers combined), according to the IDC study.
The rise of the mobile workforce is a key issue that employers must examine as they classify and compensate employees under the new FLSA overtime rules. Here are a few questions employers should consider to help them understand their employees’ current mobile usage and its potential impact on workers’ hours and pay in the future:
- How many hours are non-exempt workers, as well as currently exempt workers who may be reclassified as non-exempt, typically working after hours on their mobile devices?
- Should non-exempt employees continue to be allowed to use mobile devices outside of work hours?
- If a company-provided mobile device is taken away from a newly classified non-exempt employee, how will that impact morale and productivity?
Once employers determine their employees’ current mobile device use inside and outside of standard work hours, they should consider creating a companywide mobile usage handbook to standardize the organization’s policies and guidelines. This will help company leaders and HR managers navigate this critical business issue and minimize the risk of potential fines or penalties for non-compliance with the new FLSA overtime rules. Whether it’s accounting for an employee’s mobile device usage after hours or seasonal ebbs and flows in different industries, employers must consider all the expected and potential surprise factors that could impact their FLSA compliance. Early preparation is simply the best way to start tackling the mobile-use curve ball.
Tara Wolckenhauer, VP Global HR Strategy & Planning
ADP® Small Business Services
Tara has proven success in driving strategic human resources and core business initiatives through effectively structured teams and consultative client relationships. She is a pragmatic and proven HR leader with innovative solutions that help drive business objectives. Prior to ADP, Tara was an HR executive at Express Scripts and, prior to that, at Medco Health. Tara is a frequent speaker and commentator, and has recently appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Day Live and before the Association of Women’s Business Centers.