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How to create an effective policy on cell phones at work

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It’s the 21st century: there’s a good chance most of your employees bring a cell phone or smart phone to work. It would be unreasonable to expect them to leave their phones at home, but as a business owner, you are within your rights to set parameters around cell phone use in the workplace.

You don’t pay employees to sit around on their phones all day, but it’s important to recognize that staff have responsibilities outside work—child care, elder care, doctor appointments—and to be flexible in allowing them the opportunity to do what needs to be done, in a timely and considerate fashion. 

You should take the time to clearly communicate your expectations, being sure not to discriminate against any staff members. Apply the policy consistently and fairly. 

You may want to consider the following suggestions when creating your policy:

  • Employees may only use their cell phones during their breaks.
  • Cell phones cannot be kept on a desk.
  • Cell phones must be set to vibrate or silent.
  • Keep personal calls short and infrequent.
  • Limit the time spent surfing the internet, e-mailing and texting.

If employees’ phones are company property, you may also want to consider including the following in a policy:

Employees may not:

  • Play games or access social media;
  • Use their phone for any reason while driving;
  • Download inappropriate, obscene or illegal material; or
  • Use the camera or microphone to record confidential information.