"Policing Work Boundaries on the Cloud." The Yale Law Journal, 2018.

Opeyemi Akanbi

The widespread use of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications like Slack, Workplace, and Teams highlights an important shift in how work is conceptualized and performed in the digital age. Cloud computing, the technology on which these enterprise applications are based, blurs work boundaries due to its capacity to free work from spatial and time constraints. Because labor laws are predicated on a strict dichotomy between work and nonwork, cloud computing can render them inapt. This essay expands on the ways in which the reality of work performance with SaaS applications deviates from the legal foundations of work regulation. It also explores certain possibilities for reconciling round-the-clock use of such applications with the existing labor law regime. In doing so, this essay argues that application designers can play a central role in ensuring the continued relevance and enforcement of labor regulations in digital environments. Relying on arguments for regulation by code, the author proposes a regulatory scheme that encourages providers of enterprise SaaS applications to incorporate features for tracking and displaying usage time alongside the capacity to block worker access during predetermined time windows or after certain hours of activity.

Published in Volume 127