Could Brazil’s overtime law save my family?

What if the United States adopted Brazil’s law for overtime pay for working after hours? Or, imagine a world when email stopped coming in after a certain time, as Volkswagen is doing. As expensive as stepping up overtime rules or stopping incoming emails might be for Corporate America, it would be good for family time.

I know I’m not the only parent guilty of checking and responding to email while simultaneously cheering for my son at his games. I’m joined by a slew of other parents furiously tapping away at their BlackBerries and iPhones, too.


One could argue that holding an open for business sign 24 hours a day is the type of work ethic required to survive in a global economy. In part, it is true. How else would we communicate with our counterparts in Asia or in the West Coast without working outside of regular hours?

However, bearing in mind the toll the digital age can take on my family, I asked everyone to disconnect from all electronics during dinner. (It wasn’t well-received.) It was a desperate attempt to keep us all from becoming digital zombies. It’s worked in helping us discuss personal news of the day, as well as current events. From time to time, we even play board games--Monopoly or Scrabble. (Yup, quite old-school. I know.)

But forcing employees to stick to regular, humane hours with the penalty of paying overtime may also be what America needs to bring back the importance of family time.

What measures have you taken to improve the quality of family time? Would you support a labor law that calls for overtime for off-hour work?

Image via Mike "Dakinewavamon" Kline/flickr