“Extreme” French Proposed E-Mail Law: Already Law in U.S.
Posted 04.21.14
Jonathan A. Segal

A bill is being considered in France that would potentially restrict severely use of e-mail by employees off the clock.

I have read many business leaders respond with dismay.  How much can French government regulate and expect business to survive, let alone thrive?

Lots come back across the pond.  That “controversial,” “extreme” and “off the wall” French proposal: well, it is already U.S. law!

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt employees must be paid for all time worked.  Work-related e-mails are work!

U.S., employers face exposure here primarily in two areas:

1. Mobile devices, such as i-phones
2. Remote access to the employer’s network server

Of course, the safest legal answer:

1. No mobile devices for non-exempt employees
2. Block access by non-exempt employees to the employer’s network

This may avoid legal risk.  But it also may be business blind,

Employers need to consider when there are compelling circumstances for e-mail use by non-exempt employees outside of regular working hours and then:

1. Create parameters for limited use
2. Monitor employees to make sure they use mobile devices or access the network only within such parameters
3. Establish protocol for employees to record time worked
4. Pay for all time recorded as worked
5. Pay also if management has actual or constructive knowledge of off the clock e-mail work

And more…..

So what was your reaction to French proposal, again?

This blog should not be construed as legal advice, pertaining to specific factual situations or creating an attorney-client relationship.

About Jonathan A. Segal
Jonathan A. Segal is a partner at Duane Morris LLP in the Employment Group. He is also the managing principal of the Duane Morris Institute. The Duane Morris Institute provides training for human resource professionals, in-house counsel, and other leaders at client sites and by way of webinar on myriad employment, leadership labor, benefits and immigration topics. Jonathan has served intermittently as a consultant to the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C. for more than 20 years, providing training on employment issues to federal judges around the country. Jonathan also has provided training on harassment on behalf of the EEOC as well as providing training on diversity to members of the United States intelligence agencies. Jonathan is also frequently a featured speaker at national, state and local human resource, business and legal conferences, including conferences sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Pennsylvania State Chamber of Business and Industry. Jonathan’s practice focuses on maximizing compliance and minimizing legal risk. Jonathan’s particular areas of emphasis include: equal employment opportunity in general and gender equality in particular: social media; wage and hour; performance management; talent acquisition; harassment prevention and correction; and non-competes and other ways to protect your business. You can find him on Twitter @Jonathan_HR_Law .