An app to stop employees like #AlexFromTarget from checking work email

Today’s post is brought to you by the letters S, E, and O.

With a tip of the hat to whomever posted a link to this story on Twitter, it got me reading about this app that companies can install on employees’ smartphones and tablets that would preclude them from accessing work-related email on those devices.

Why would you want to do that?

For starters, app maker touts the feature as increasing productivity, reducing stress, and creating a more stark line between work and personal time.

But, this is an employment-law blog. And, little known fact: When Ice Cube wrote Check Yo Self in 1992, he created a prescient radio remix, addressing the Fair Labor Standards Act implications of employees using smartphones for work email.

Right hand to God.

You see, the FLSA (and, by extension, parallel state laws) requires that employers pay minimum wage to all employees and overtime to non-exempt employees, like #AlexFromTarget, for all hours over 40 worked in a particular workweek. And Cube knew that when a non-exempt employee is accessing work-related email on a handheld device either on or off the clock, unless de minimis, that is still compensable time.

(Just kidding on the Ice Cube thing. Even #AlexFromTarget knows that).

Even without this app, if you won’t want non-exempt employees using work email “off the clock,” have a rule in your handbook. You can strictly forbid non-exempt employees from accessing work-related emails “off the clock.” If employees ignore the rule, you still have to compensate those employees. However, you can discipline them too.