One common aspect of employment today is our nearly constant connection to our phones and email. Because our daily work lives are so connected to our phones, many people aren’t sure of when their work days actually begin and end. Work time spills into personal time, and vice versa. That situation raises the question: shouldn’t you be getting paid for the time you spend on work-related texts and email while off the clock?
It’s a problem that lawmakers in New York City are already trying to address. A bill was proposed earlier this year to offer employees more legal leverage if their employer retaliates against them for not responding to after-work email. But the implications of blending work life and personal life are more than legal.
A study has shown that responding to work-related email while off the clock may be bad for your health and your family.
Researchers at Virginia Tech say that even the expectation that you respond to after-work email or texts could cause anxiety and create competing demands between your work and your family. The results, say the researchers, are harm to your health and harm to your relationships.
Other studies have already established that increased job demands can cause stress and conflict among family members, particularly if the employee is unable to meet nonwork-demands at home due to after-hours work. But the new study goes further. It suggests that, even if you don’t spend actual time on your work in your off-hours, the mere expectation that you remain available for off-hours work places an unhealthy strain on you and your family.
These are the types of issues that lawmakers in New York hope to address. The goal is to to offer legal options to workers who choose to assert their right not to respond to email and texts while off the clock.
For more on related matters, please see our recent post, “Getting paid for all hours worked, including overtime, is critical.”