Email after hours? It's overtime by law

Last updated 16:20 13/01/2012
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WHEN TO QUIT: Workers in Brazil can now claim overtime for reading emails after-hours.

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Workers who find themselves answering work emails on their smartphones after the end of their shifts in Brazil can now qualify for overtime under a new law.

The new legislation was approved by President Dilma Rousseff last month.

It says company emails to workers are equivalent to orders given directly to the employee.

Brazil has a population of 195 million people but the number of mobile subscribers exceeded 210.5 million in August last year, according to the Brazilian National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel).

Subscriptions were growing at about 3 million a month, mostly from internet-enabled phones. There were more than 25 million internet-enabled mobile phones in the country last year.

Labour attorneys told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper the new law makes it possible for workers answering emails after hours to ask for overtime pay.

This issue of over-connectivity has started to pop up in several corners of the world.

In May, Chicago policeman Jeffrey Allen filed a class action suit against the city, asking for unpaid overtime compensation.

In December, German carmaker Volkswagen agreed with labour representatives to switch off BlackBerry emails after hours. The move came after French IT company Atos announced plans to eliminate company internal emails by 2013.

German telco Deutsche Telekom and consumer goods maker Henkel have also introduced measures to curb after-hours emails to reduce the pressure on workers to be always on call.

- Sydney Morning Herald with AP Digital

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