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E-mail after work hours? That's overtime, says law

A new Brazilian law says that workers who are forced to answer e-mails out of their work hours qualify for overtime.

Companies take liberties.

The liberty some seem to enjoy most is yours. As recessions hit and profit pressures become the sole reason for existence, bosses seem to believe that they own workers--until they discard them for younger, fresher models.

Now a curiously human law has reared its head in Brazil. According to the Associated Press, this law says that if a company e-mails you after your allotted working hours, then this is the same as if one's supervisor is giving one an instruction to perform a certain work task.


Ergo, argue Brazilian labor lawyers, if a worker receives such an e-mail and has to act on it, he or she qualifies for overtime pay.

I can already hear the howling of corporate management in, say, America. I can hear sniggers suggesting that every corporate employee should be on call 24 hours a day.

That is today's connected world.

Some might offer, though, that today's connected world has become peculiarly inhuman-- one in which employees are numbers, rather than human beings to whom the company has made a longer-term commitment.

If, as Mitt Romney tells us, corporations are people, perhaps people should now be corporations.

"You want me to answer an e-mail at 9 p.m.? That will be $900. Night-rates, you understand."