Where do you draw the line between work and your personal life? Do you hop on the bus or subway to head home for the day and log into your email? Is there a church and state “wall” between when you leave the office and enter the next day?
If you are working — even checking email on the commute home or reviewing a presentation over the weekend — should you be compensated for it?
As technology makes it easier than ever for us to work, these questions pose interesting debates across the world. The answers are not so clear, but it does shine the spotlight on the commute and how it has become an extension of the workday in many ways.
How the world handles off-hours work
Depending on where you live, time away from work is either sacred or sometimes considered an extension to the workday.
In Norway, commuters can work out agreements with their employers to be paid for travel time.
In France, companies must establish hours for employees where email is off limits.
Closer to home, in New York City there is a push to pass legislation to ban after-hours work tasks.
Even if the legislation passes, you have to wonder what it will mean.
A recent study in the United Kingdom analyzed thousands of commuters’ online habits. Many of the respondents told researchers they use the commuting time to “catch up” on work tasks.
If people are spending time on email, the study said, the time should be considered part of the workday.
Should you be compensated for commuting?
It seems the days of a traditional 9-5 workday are long gone. Newer workers in the workforce like the Millennial generation have never experienced it.
The study in the UK said compensating workers or providing flexible work schedules may ease pressure on mass transit peak hours and allow workers a better work-life balance.
There’s also the possibility the courts will sort it out. Is catching up on work email the same type of job responsibility as a school bus driver performing necessary inspections before he starts his route? In the latter case, a court said the inspections meant the driver had to be compensated for the travel time to his route.
One way to get “compensated” for your the commute
If your company offers commuter benefits, there are ways you can actually save money while commuting. It might not stack up like daily overtime, but you can save up to 40 percent of your commuting costs for a given year.
Rather than hash it out in court with your employer, they’ll actually enjoy savings too. Employers save up to 7.65 percent in payroll taxes when offering commuter benefits to employees. This occurs because employees set aside pre-tax money from their paychecks to pay for public transit, parking costs and rideshares, like UberPool and Lyft Shared.
Will there ever be an actual ban on after-hours work tasks? Probably not. However, it does make sense if you are commuting to work to at least get savings on your expenses through commuter benefits. While it’s not an actual bump in pay, it does mean a bigger bank account to compensate for the extra time you are spending on work tasks.
Do you want to know what are commuter benefits? Download our 101 Guide now!