Domestic and Global Contexts
Elgar Law and Entrepreneurship series
Edited by Lynda J. Oswald and Marisa Anne Pagnattaro
Chapter 5: The intersection of smartphone technology and fair labor standards
As the multi-billion dollar smartphone patent wars continue unabated, one fact remains certain: the smartphone will remain an omnipresent technology. Smartphones transform how we receive information, dictate our personal lives, and influence interactions with our world. One of the venues in which the smartphone will predominate is the modern workplace. Smartphones at work enable employees to multitask, communicate more readily, and gather information instantaneously. Employers can enjoy productivity benefits from their workforce as employees react to challenges and opportunities with minimal delay. The introduction of smartphones, however, is not entirely cost free. The presence of this technology means that employers can reach virtually any employee at any time. A smartphone can transform the employee’s location into a virtual office with more than sufficient information available and ready to execute the employer’s wishes. This ability to communicate through voice, text, or data at any moment exerts a new power over employees that has never been fully exerted until the advent of such technology. The use of communicative technology can in essence create a twenty-four-hour workplace, with all its associated demands and responsibilities, whether employees like it or not. As with the introduction of many new technologies, legal questions follow in their wake. Employers are increasingly using smartphone and other technology to reach employees outside of working hours and not compensate them for their working time.
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