Seasonal Affective Disorder and Light Therapy
Full spectrum lighting has no precise scientific definition, but describes light bulbs that produce light that similar to natural sunlight. Full spectrum light bulbs may be helpful for individuals who suffer from the winter blahs to mild Seasonal Affective Syndrome (SAD). Most people will agree that working in an office with no windows can be depressing. Full spectrum light bulbs can make the indoors look like the height of summer and have been found to improve mood, energy, learning ability, and behavior.
However, 2-3% of Canadians may deal with severe SAD and may benefit from phototherapy lights. These are specialized lights that have been found to be about 70% effective in relieving the symptoms of SAD. Some workplaces have made these lights available to their employees. However, these phototherapy lights are a medical treatment and should be respected as such. Self-diagnosis and treatment are never recommended.
Being Continually Connecting May Pose A Legal Liability
Laptops, Blackberries, and other wireless devices that connect employees to the office outside of normal working hours can present potential legal dangers for employers under the provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state overtime laws, according to Amy McAndrew, an attorney with Pepper Hamilton.
Courts interpreting the FLSA have stated that “insubstantial or insignificant periods of time” are considered minimal, and do not need to be counted as compensable work time. “However, the regulations interpreting the FLSA say that working as little as 10 minutes per day should not be considered minimal under the law. Therefore, if a non-exempt employee uses technology such as a cell phone, a remote Internet connection, or a BlackBerry outside of regular work hours and, as a result, works more than 40 hours per week, that work may have to be compensated as overtime,” McAndrew said.
To protect against these types of claims, it is vital to create and enforce written policies regarding the use of technology outside of normal work time. According to McAndrew, these policies should include:
- Limiting the amount of time that non-exempt employees can spend using these devices outside of normal work hours.
- Requiring non-exempt employees to receive permission before using these devices after normal work hours
- Requiring non-exempt employees to report all work time outside of normal working hours to ensure payment for work completed.
- Employers should have in place clear, written policies and safety guidelines for use of cell phones while operating a vehicle including requiring employees to pull their cars over to the side of the road before answering cell phone calls.
Being continually connected to the office is not good for our creativity and life balance. Knowing when and how to disconnect is vital. Employers need to ensure that policies clearly outline the expectations for using the technology effectively and to everyone’s benefit.
- How does your company address being connected outside of work hours?
- Do you have clear policies on sending emails or answering calls after hours?