by Brett Strauss, Esq. & Director of Compliance
In today’s digital age, technology has rapidly changed the way in which an organization communicates with its employees. Instead of drafting a carefully worded email to employees or calling them into your office for a meeting, now all it takes is a quick text message to let them know that you’ll be out of the office for the day or to ask them how their sales calls went.
The obvious advantages that come along with texting your employees include: increased efficiency and convenience, as well as breaking down the walls of formality between manager and employee. Despite these benefits, there are also a number of potential pitfalls that organizations must be aware of. Here are a few things that you need to know before texting with your employees:
1) When communicating through text message or other informal means, it is important to treat the communication as professional correspondence and adhere to the same elements (formality, clarity and professionalism). Structuring your communication effectively can potentially keep your organization out of trouble and save it a significant amount of time and money down the road. Avoid sending GIFs at all cost. They might not mean what you think they mean and there’s a high likelihood of them being misinterpreted. Lastly, there are a few states that have allowed harassment/hostile work environment lawsuits to proceed in cases where Management has texted inappropriate messages to employees so please be careful.
2) Be cognizant of when you send text messages to your employees. There has been a recent uptick in Wage & Hour lawsuits involving employers sending text messages to non-exempt employees before or after business hours and failing to compensate them for the time spent responding. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay non-exempt employees for all overtime hours worked – including overtime spent emailing, texting, or on the phone. If you text employees before or after hours, make sure that they are recording the time spent responding so that they can be compensated appropriately. As an employer, you will be held liable for failure to compensate the employees appropriately even if the employee fails to properly record the time spent.
3) Please make sure that your employee handbook is updated with your company’s policy regarding texting employees. Here are some things to consider: Is it acceptable to call in sick or request time off via text? Should employees be texting with clients? If so, should there be a limit on how many times and at what time of day these text conversations take place? You’ll also want to make sure that employees are not sharing private company or client information via text in case the device they’re using is lost or stolen.
Lastly….if you wouldn’t say it to your employee if they were standing in front of you, don’t say it via text!
Please join us for an informative webinar on this topic presented on Tuesday, February 14, 2023 at 10:00 AM PST. Register today at https://www.sdppayroll.com/events/
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*Southland Data Processing, Inc. (“SDP”) is not a law firm. This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in reaching a conclusion in a particular area of law. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. Receipt of this or any other SDP materials does not create an attorney-client relationship. SDP is not responsible for any inadvertent errors that may occur in the publishing process.