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Off-the-clock employee communication

cell phone

Question:

Can a restaurant make a bartender respond to texts or calls on the employee's day off?

– Mike, JP’s, Hamburg, NY

Answer:

There are people who leave work and think about work—how to improve for the next shift, stock that will need to be reordered, and so on. That’s me. There are others who want to totally check out.

If you are being asked simple questions like, “Who received the delivery yesterday?” or, “Can you pick up an extra shift next week?” it would be silly and unprofessional not to respond. If you are a salaried employee you should definitely always respond; if you are hourly you should too.

If you are hourly and being asked substantive work-related questions like, “Can you come up with some spring cocktail ideas?” you are right to push back and wait until you are on the clock, unless you are pursuing these projects out of personal interest.

While you may be within your legal rights not to respond to work-related communication on your own time, you don’t want to develop a reputation as someone who can’t be reached. That said, if the calls are frequent or too substantive for a quick response, try saying, “This is too much to discuss now. I would like to meet when I am at work next.”

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