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California after-hours work emails: Are you owed compensation?

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2024 | Wage & Hour Law

If you’re an employee in today’s hyper-connected world, you know that the boundaries between your work and personal life can easily fade. If you’re an employee whose employer expects you to be constantly available, you may wonder if you’re owed compensation for off-the-clock and after-hours work related activities.

Perhaps your employer even went the extra mile to provide you with a work laptop or smartphone to help ensure you have no excuse for not responding when the company needs you.  Maybe you’re expected to be on call and answer calls even outside of regular work hours. California’s labor laws protect the workers and help to ensure you receive fair compensation for all the work you perform, even if it happens after you’ve officially clocked out.

Are you familiar with California’s labor laws?

You’ll be pleased to know that the Golden State boasts some of the most employee-friendly labor laws in the nation. Various legislations outline specific provisions that address wages, hours and working conditions. One of the most important provisions is the mandate that employees ought to be fairly compensated for all hours they work. Furthermore, the state’s Supreme Court has stipulated that anytime you complete tasks that benefit your employer, they should compensate you. Therefore, if you’ve been fulfilling the company’s communication needs outside of working hours at the request of the company, you might be owed compensation for your labor.

Accurate timekeeping can help your case

Suppose you’re paid hourly; accurate timekeeping can help your case. As a non-exempt employee, you need proof that shows you worked overtime. Each time you’re performing a work-related task outside your stipulated hours, make sure you document all the time you worked on those tasks. It can also help to familiarize yourself with the correct overtime rates to help ensure your employer does not shortchange you. Unfortunately, accounting for overtime can be challenging if work communications happen outside of the office.

Are you familiar with your rights?

Suppose you have proof that you’ve been working off-the-clock, but your employer fails to compensate you. In that case, you should seek legal help as you may be owed wages.  You should familiarize yourself with your company’s policies regarding after-hours work communications and how it affects you and other employees. These policies should outline how to report such after hours work activities or communications.  If the company does not have any policies, you should consult with your HR person or seek legal advice as to how to approach the subject with the company.

If you find yourself frequently working outside of your regular hours without compensation, it is important to address this with your employer. If necessary, you can file a claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or seek legal guidance to help ensure you receive the compensation you are owed.