HR & Employment Law Insights

Helping family businesses, start-ups, charities, social enterprises, and other growing or established businesses throughout the UK make sense of HR and Employment Law challenges.

It’s been another busy week at The HR Booth, where we have been solving customer problems and helping with HR related enquiries.

Here’s another question we’ve been asked to respond to this week.

Question 

Can I stop an employee from using their mobile phone during working hours?

Answer

Yes, you can stop an employee from using their mobile during working hours.

Most employee handbooks will have a mobile phone policy which states that all mobile phones should be switched off or on silent during working hours and remain in either locker provided by the company or in the employee’s bag or vehicle.

If an employee says that they need to be reached in case of an emergency then you should advise them to give your work telephone number and any calls should be made to this number, and you will ensure a message is passed on.  You may have a situation where an employee has a seriously ill relative and is awaiting a call, and you can take a view whether to permit this employee on that occasion to have their mobile phone on them.

It’s good practice to ensure your mobile phone policy captures the use of tablets and other devices, as these are becoming more common in the workplace.

In some cases using a mobile phone can be breaching health and safety if the employee is using this while operating machinery or while driving a company vehicle.  Therefore, it is essential you enforce these rules to ensure you business fully complies with HSE legislation and you’re consistent in your approach.

When working with a lot of clients in customer-facing roles, such as retail etc, and customers do not want to see employees using their mobiles as this does not display good customer service, particularly where the customer has had to wait to be served.

We would also advise you to explain to your employees why you have a policy on this, rather than imposing it, as this gives you an opportunity to respond to any concerns they may have.  This is something we supported a client with earlier this week when we were sharing details of the new employee handbook and the employees appreciated the time to meet on a 1-1 basis.

If you would like further information on what to include in a mobile  phone policy, please get in touch.