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How Technology Killed the 40-Hour Work Week


The ability to work at home is a “convenience” that may be cheating workers out of overtime pay. Technology helped to create this problem, but it also offers ways to solve it.

Since 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the United States of America has protected workers in both the public and private sectors. The overtime clause of the FLSA requires time and a half pay for any hours worked in a week over forty hours. If you make $10 per hour, and if you work 42 hours in a week, you should get paid $15 per hour for the two extra hours.

A recent article in Businessweek discusses the wide use of mobile technology, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones, which allows employees the flexibility of getting work done outside of the office.

It seems that the convenience of working at home may be a bigger boon for employers than employees. Businessweek quotes a 2012 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that found 24 percent of employees use mobile technology to telecommute. Instead of helping people manage their time and reduce work-family conflicts, working from home seesm to have expanded work hours.

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Employees, however, are not always paid for those extra hours worked.

The good news is that just as technology allows us to work from anywhere, it also gives us ways track those hours worked. There are apps that track everything from phone calls to mileage, allowing employees to create mobile timesheets which they can then submit to their bosses.

There are also products that monitor internet activity, allowing managers the ability to keep track of what the employee is doing while working from home. For privacy, these programs should only be on when working.

Technology has given the workforce convenience but is an added burden at the same time. When employees work from home or anywhere outside of the office, their rights to overtime pay do not become obsolete. If you find yourself in this situation, perhaps it’s time for a friendly chat with your employer about what technology can do to help you account for your time.

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How much do you work from home? Do you keep track of your hours? Leave a comment and come join the conversation on Twitter

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