PDAs and labor laws

In Canada, there are movements afoot to add PDA usage to employee contracts to keep employees from being taken advantage of. But could this backfire?

The Canadian paper The Globe and Mail ran a story last week in which it stated that a union representing government workers was going to make the use of pocket-size electronic devices such as BlackBerrys a bargaining issue. In other words, it's advocating that the government pay its employees for work they do out of the office.

From the article:

"For some people, having a BlackBerry is like: We own you. You are our person, 24 hours, 7 days a week," said Ed Cashman, Public Service Alliance of Canada's regional executive vice-president for the National Capital Region, who says the union will insert the issue of BlackBerry use into its continuing contract negotiations.

In the United States, legal experts are warning that a new wave of overtime litigation is on the horizon, in which employees will claim overtime for all the hours they've spent clicking away at their hand-held devices.

Some experts believe that adding PDA usage to contract negotiations would result in people working longer hours or would add more expectations around availability. Some say it's up to the individual to just turn the device off.

What's your take?


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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