Tips to Limit Employer Liability on Employee Cellphone Use



Smartphones should improve your employees’ performance and facilitate profits. But that’s not always the case because of some employees’ behavior.

In this litigious society, you can never be certain you’re free from lawsuits. That includes the use of smartphones.

Yes, there are increasing risks to companies over the use of smartphones by their workers. So, for your employee handbook, it’s imperative to develop a smartphone policy. Then, training employees regarding the policy is imperative.

Risks range from losing proprietary information such as trade secrets to harassment and other legal liabilities.

Legal liability involves employees who talk on the phone or texting while driving at work. Ouch.

Here are cellphone-policy tips to consider:

Prevention of accidents

Smartphone functions have become so elaborate, not only talking and texting, but taking pictures and games, too.

It’s very dangerous if employees use their smartphones while driving. Your policy should include avoiding such risks.

Etiquette

Develop and implement a policy regarding employees’ use of smartphones in driving and in other work situations.

More than a quarter of a century ago, I learned an embarrassing lesson in a client meeting just after I launched my consulting practice. My vintage phone was in my briefcase but it abruptly rang interrupting the meeting. So, before every meeting I quickly learned to turn off my phone.

So, it’s amazing now to see people use their cellphones meetings. It’s a sure-fire way to annoy clients or any other attendees in a meeting.

True, there might be times when an employee is expecting an urgent call necessitating the use of a smartphone.

As a consultant, sometimes I had to keep my phone on in meetings – if I needed to keep it handy if I was handling an important project for the clients. The clients certainly appreciated it.  But not as a rule.

Keeping records

Texting in business has become a common practice. But as you know, texts can’t be filed. Deleted texts are challenging to recover.

Decide how you want to keep texting records in case they’re needed; especially for legal matters.

Also, sometimes, emails become an issue in financial, legal or regulatory matters.

To avoid misunderstanding, don’t allow off-the-clock work which easily morphs into lawsuits.

Privacy

Employees should be advised that any of their messages on company-owned devices are the property of you, the employer.

In other words, they should be warned that they have no privacy in using a company device and their communications can be reviewed by you.

Also, point out that the business owns the telephone number. You don’t want employees who are leaving to use your number in a secret effort to steal your customers.

Inappropriate use

Employees should be advised that other inappropriate use of your phones will not be tolerated.

Along with your standard policy for sexual or any other type of harassment, institute a policy that your devices cannot be used for any form of harassment.

Performance and productivity

Your policy should cover how and when smartphones can be used. Remind your employees regarding your policies in using smartphones as a computer, the Internet, and social media.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant tips:

Basics to Consider Before Writing Nondisclosure Agreements — If you have business secrets to protect you might want to use a confidentiality policy, a nondisclosure agreement and possibly a noncompete agreement. Here are the pros and cons.

16 Best Practices to Stay out of Legal Trouble with Employees — Generally, in human resources, companies find themselves in legal hot water because they inadvertently make mistakes with their employees. It’s important to triple down on preventative measures and responses to legal hazards when necessary.

Best Practices with HR Records to Guard against Legal Risks — If you aren’t able to supply relevant documentation, you’ll pay a heavy price. In some cases, you’ll even be forced to give the job back to a nonperforming or toxic employee.

Best Employee-Handbook Values to Avoid Legal Issues — Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. Here are employee-handbook values to consider.

Management – How to Improve Accountability in Your Company — If business and tepid growth have affected your outlook, take a look at your human resources and consider a couple of questions. If you don’t like your answer, here are eight solutions.

“The cell phone has become the adult’s transitional object, replacing the toddler’s teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.”

-Margaret Heffernan


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.