New, mandatory FLSA overtime regulation changes will force managers to change the way we communicate with employees outside of normal office hours.

Picture this: It’s 5AM and your employee is at home prior to an 8AM off-site business meeting. Rather than hit the snooze button one more time, she begrudgingly figures it would be a perfect time to catch up on emails and map out her workday instead. Besides, everyone knows that the best time to tackle projects for work is when everything is calm and quiet, right? Work doesn’t happen at work.

Is your employee one of the 15 million American employees who will soon be eligible for overtime? If so, you might want to get in the habit of watching the clock (and her timesheet).

As soon as the ruling becomes official, currently salaried employees making between $23,660 and $47,476 will automatically become eligible for overtime and there’s only a small window of time to comply. Are you prepared to manage your team according to the new rules and requirements?

Here are a few things to consider:

Impacted employees will have to track their work time in and out of the office. Employees who are newly eligible for overtime may rejoice at the chance for more income but may require a huge learning curve when it comes to adjusting to time tracking requirements that they previously were exempt from. From emails to errands, all work-related activities in a given week matter and must be accounted for in order to establish compliance with the law.

Specific out of office activities that employees need to track will include (but are not limited to):

  • Answering business calls in the car or at home
  • Attending a business lunch or dinner function
  • Checking voicemails after the workday is over or before it begins
  • Joining conference calls while on vacation
  • Reading and responding to emails while on errands
  • Planning and researching business development issues over the weekend
  • Traveling to appointments in and out of state
  • Waiting for an off-site meeting to start
  • Zeroing their inbox

Activities that used to be a given for some of your employees may now be subject to scrutiny and elimination.

Workers can send emails after hours tonight, but that might impact their hours tomorrow. Will the new changes totally cripple your team’s ability to communicate away from the office? Not quite. Remember, employees who are eligible for overtime have 40 hours to work in a given week. If your organization requires you to keep OT to a minimum, you’ll need to check in daily to see just how much time your employees have spent on work. For example: Let’s say you’re watching Gray’s Anatomy and a commercial reminds you about a project you’ve given your employee earlier in the week so you email to check the status of it. If your employee spends an hour that night responding to your email, then you’ll need to adjust her office hours for the rest of the week.

The bottom line is that managers will need to adjust their expectations about communication and productivity. If you manage formerly exempt workers that have not become eligible for overtime, the overtime regulation overhaul is coming and it will change the way you communicate with your employees. Instead of having a free-flowing wave of communication after hours about new ideas and project updates, you’ll need to adjust expectations about workplace chatter. Otherwise, you may find yourself needing to explain increased salary expenses to HR or your CFO.

At Jumpstart:HR, we’re actively working on ways to better educate our readers and customers on the topic of overtime law compliance. Unless something changes, no business is exempt from complying with this ruling and we don’t want you to be caught behind or overwhelmed. If you are in need of assistance, contact us immediately and we will follow up very soon with supportive next steps.