As I mentioned in Wednesday’s Bulletin, excessive and unsafe use of mobile phones in the workplace is increasingly becoming a big issue for employers.
For example, many employers struggle with employees who use their mobiles excessively during work hours to make personal calls… others have to deal with employees who make too many personal calls on their business mobiles… and some have to worry about the safety implications of employees who drive on the job and need to answer business calls while doing so.
Whichever mobile phone issues you face in your workplace, it is a good idea to implement and enforce a mobile phone usage policy.
On Wednesday, I went over 2 of the 7 things you should include in your workplace mobile phone policy. Today, I’ll cover the remaining 5.
Your mobile phone policy should:
1. Identify your employees’ obligations. Your policy should outline how you expect your employees to conduct themselves when using a mobile phone in the workplace. For example, you should remind employees to consider others in the workplace while on their phone – they should attempt to talk quietly and turn the volume down or switch their phones to silent during working hours.
2. Specify the guidelines of using business mobiles. If your business provides any employees with a mobile phone and/or pays for the bills, you need to specify in your policy exactly how that phone should be used.
For example, you need to consider whether or not to allow employees with a business phone to make personal calls. If so, you should consider putting a cap on the amount they are allowed to make and making this clear in your policy.
If you don’t do this, you could find that you get caught out – just take this case as an example: In Normist Pty Ltd v O’Shea (2009), an employer brought a claim against one of its employees for making an excessive number of personal calls on his business mobile. Their claim was unsuccessful because they did not have a specific policy that made it clear to the employee what ‘excessive’ actually meant.
3. Remind employees of their responsibility not to misuse your confidential information. Modern mobiles and smart phones allow their users to store copious amounts of data – be it images, emails or documents. While this has been a massive step forward for business in many ways, it also means there is a much greater chance that your business’s confidential information could fall into the wrong hands.
Your employees have a responsibility to avoid this happening and you need to remind them of this in your policy. While this is difficult to govern, one thing you can do is request that all employees set a PIN number on their phone. This will make it harder for third parties to access information if the phone is lost or stolen.
4. Emphasise the need for employees to comply with safety laws. The use of mobile phones in the workplace can be an OH&S issue. Your policy should state that you prohibit the use of mobile phones while driving on the job. If many of your employees drive for work on a regular basis, you should consider providing them with a hands-free kit to use while on the road.
Also, it may also be a good idea to warn employees of the suggested health risks posed by mobile phone use and suggest steps they can take to minimise these risks, such as using headphones during long conversations and not holding the handset too close to their ear.
5. Specify the consequences of non-compliance. Your policy needs to specify exactly what will happen if you believe an employee has breached it. You should also outline the actions you will take.
Until next time…