Can I stop an employee from using their mobile at work?

mobile at work

Mobile phones at work are quickly becoming a prominent fixture in the workplace. Studies have shown that just having a smartphone on your desk or close by can be a massive distraction and have a negative impact on productivity.

When employees are spending too much time on their device, they are wasting their working hours. This means they are spending less time on what you pay them to do, missing deadlines and jeopardising client and colleague relationships. With this in mind, we’re not surprised that one of the most common questions we get asked is how to stop employees from using their mobile at work.

Can I stop an employee from using their mobile at work?

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. The policy may also request that devices remain in either a locker provided by the company or in a bag.

Rules on telephone usage in the workplace

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

In some cases telephone usage in the workplace can breach health and safety. Especially 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. Make sure you’re consistent in your approach.

When it comes to customer-facing roles, it can be really frustrating for customers when employees are visibly using their mobile phones. This displays bad customer service, particularly where the customer has had to wait to be served. This can have a negative impact on your business’ reputation. In this case, we advice you to enforce clear rules to ensure your staff don’t use their mobile phones while working.

What should a mobile phone policy include?

When creating a mobile phone policy, it’s important that it works for your business. If you have a retail business, work with machinery, or any other sector that a mobile at work may cause health and safety hazards, you can consider a strict policy. This can include:

  • mobile phones must be switched off during working hours
  • Devices are banned in meetings
  • Mobile phones must be kept in a bag, drawer, or company storage locker.

It’s important to keep in mind that mobile phones have become an extension of many people’s lives. In some cases, it’s an addiction. Therefore, keep Occupational Health close incase staff are struggling.

If you’re company relies on mobile phones in order for staff to do their job, you can adopt a more flexible approach. This can include:

  • Staff can have their mobile phone close by however, it must be on silent or vibrate.
  • Text and calls must be made away from working areas to avoid distracting other employees.
  •  Devices must not be used or answered during meetings.

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

Communicate with Employees

We would also advise you to explain to your employees why mobile phones not allowed in workplace. This is better than just imposing it. This gives you an opportunity to respond to any concerns they may have. No matter what approach you decide on when creating your mobile phone policy, make the consequences clear if these rules are broken.

If you would like further information on how to stop employees from using their mobile at work and what to include in a mobile phone policy, please get in touch.

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