J.J. McCorvey of Inc. magazine reports that more than 90 per cent of employees have cell phones. Although employees may use these devices to facilitate quick completion of work-related tasks, cell phones also bring potential legal and safety issues to the table for businesses. For this reason, companies are creating and enforcing cell phone policies that outline what is and is not acceptable regarding cell phone use.
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McCorvey and CSO Online detail what a good cell phone policy should contain. They indicate that a good policy needs to define the cell phone devices to which the policy applies as well as what the goals of the company are related to the phones (for example, increased productivity). McCorvey also explains that policies should include basic expectations of cell phone etiquette, explanations for the legal and safety hazards involved with the cell phones and what disciplinary action management may take for policy violators.
In some cases, cell phone use creates safety hazards for employees. For example, a truck driver using his phone while on the road may get distracted and cause a serious accident. Companies also need cell phone policies in order to curb the temptation of employees to spend time on the devices for non-business purposes. Companies also have a legal responsibility to protect private data that employees may transmit through their cell phone conversations. Additionally, according to the Internal Revenue Service, cell phone policies may make a difference in whether employees may bill cell phone charges to their employers and how both the employees and the employers handle the phones on their taxes.
Degree of Severity
Certain employers may find that using a cell phone policy is more beneficial. For example, in a law firm, lawyers may need a policy that is more lax in order to communicate with witnesses, court officials and team members according to legal deadlines. However, hospital employees and factory workers may need a very strict policy because cell phones may interfere with life-saving medical devices negatively or catch on dangerous factory equipment. The severity of the policy thus varies based on the employing industry.
Creating a Policy
McCorvey points out that it is a good idea for members of management to include people from different areas or positions in the creation of a cell phone policy. For example, information technology workers may participate in the creation because they are technically familiar with the devices and can present management with possibilities for functionality and hazard. McCorvey also recommends inviting company lawyers, human resources representatives and managers from each department.
The most obvious benefit of a cell phone policy is the protection of the employees and company interests. Second, cell phone policies reduce the number of legal infractions that occur as a result of cell phone use, thereby saving not only the company's reputation, but also money. Cell phone policies also may have a positive impact on productivity overall.
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