HR Home Forums Answer for Cell Phone policy implementation

Conner Lantz
Post count: 4836

No cell phones policies are perfectly legal and not an infringement on privacy. But these policies are also highly unpopular with employees. And they may also undermine productivity especially for employees who use their cell phones to do their jobs and/or who work in the field or are otherwise difficult to contact. But if you’ve assessed the negatives and found they don’t outweigh the positives, you can implement the policy. My suggestion would be to try and negotiate with employees so they’ll buy in.
What WOULD violate privacy is scanning personal cell phones to see how employees are using them during work. Unlike work computers, employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to their personal cell phones. Issuing company cell phones is one way around that but buying the equipment and setting up the monitoring system is a big investment.
As for part 2 of your Q, unauthorized use of personal cell phone at work is grounds for discipline, especially if you have a clear policy. But as your Q recognizes, it’s the kind of offence requiring progressive discipline. At least one warning is 100% necessary but after that it gets fuzzy. One is probably not enuf, unless the offence is unusually serious, e.g., the employee was on the cell phone at a time she was being counted on to carry out a really important safety function like attending to a confined space entry. I’d also strongly suggest that you impose a suspension or some form of lesser penalty rather than go directly from warning to termination. But as is always the case with progressive discipline and the Q of whether X conduct is just cause to terminate, each situation is different and there’s no single formula–only factors you need to consider like previous discipline for other offences, length of service, severity of the offence, contrition, etc.
Hope that helps. And let me know if you want me to post the Q about how to deal with personal cell phone use on the site. Maybe our members have good ideas or experiences they can share. Glenn