Q: I’m finding it increasingly common that my staff think it is acceptable for them to use their mobile phones while at work. I personally think this is affecting productivity. What can I do limit phone usage while at work?

A: The use of mobile phones whilst at work can cause a huge distraction, creating productivity, health and safety and even safeguarding issues and many employers wish to restrict use by their employees during working hours. Employers are able to set their own rules in respect of personal mobile phone usage and many have a specific policy in this regard. Employers should ensure that their policy is conveyed to their employees as soon as possible and applied consistently.

Depending on the nature of the work involved, some employers may want to restrict use completely and insist that phones are not allowed on the employee’s person or in their near vicinity during working hours. If this is the case, employers may wish to provide lockers, for example, where personal items may be securely kept. It may also be wise to provide the use of a work’s phone, and to provide that number to employees to give to their families because there will undoubtedly be occasions where employees need to contact people, and be contacted, whilst at work.

The policy may provide that it is a disciplinary offence to be caught using a personal mobile phone at work, and if this is the case, employers should use their disciplinary process consistently to prevent further abuse. 

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