Don’t Abuse My BlackBerry (But Don’t Take it Away, Either)

June 25, 2008 07:57 AM
by Cara McDonough
A recent dispute at ABC News has employees asking for compensation when company-issued BlackBerrys lead to after-hours work.

30-Second Summary

The problem began several weeks ago when ABC News presented three new writers with a waiver stating they would not be compensated for checking e-mail on their BlackBerrys after work.

The employees expressed concern over the no-compensation rule, and after some concern on both sides, the company took back the devices. ABC reports that the conflict was resolved with the company agreeing to pay employees for some after-hours BlackBerry work if it goes “beyond routine.”

But the issue will leave workers at countless companies asking about their rights when it comes to company-issued BlackBerrys.

“People are entitled to time off the job,” said Lowell Peterson, the executive director of the East Coast division of the Writers’ Guild of America. “BlackBerrys can be liberating; they can help people keep tabs without going into the office. But they can also shackle people to their jobs.”

When ABC “Early Show” correspondent Tracy Smith asked several people if employees should be compensated for BlackBerry use, one respondent said, “If it’s after work, and it’s productive, absolutely.” Another woman responded that if she were the boss and her workers wanted to be compensated for after-hours BlackBerry use, she’d tell them, “Don’t use it!”

But BlackBerry owners don’t seem to feel that not using them is an option: compulsive use has led some to nickname the device “CrackBerry” and has even given rise to a new repetitive-stress injury: “BlackBerry thumb.”

Headline Links: Should workers get overtime for BlackBerry use?

Reactions: The BlackBerry question ‘makes some sense’

Related Topic: ‘CrackBerry’ addiction, ‘BlackBerry thumb’ and other dangers

Reference: The BlackBerry


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