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Shush… no mobile phones allowed

The excessive use of mobile phones can be extremely disruptive and cause managers to want pull their hair out in frustration.

It can drain the employee’s productivity and negatively impact their performance. It can irritate colleagues and annoy customers. It can even also make acclaimed actors get out of character and berate members of the audience mid performance!

The best way to deal with the issue is to have a clear policy which outlines the rules regarding mobile phones and their use in the workplace.

Below are some top things you need to think about when implementing rules for your shop.

Restrict when mobiles can be used

You may wish to restrict the use mobile phones to lunch or rest breaks, or to deal with an emergency that cannot wait until the end of the day.

You should also think about any health and safety considerations. For example, if you have employees who are operating heavy machinery or lifting heavy boxes when moving stock, you should not allow them to use their phone as this could lead to serious accidents and injuries.

For all employees in customer-facing roles, you should also tell them to turn their phones off at work to avoid complaints from customers. Nobody wants to be waiting at a till to pay and be ignored by someone who is playing around on their mobile phone.

Keep the noise down

Having mobile phones on loud or vibrate mode will alert the employee to a message or call. This can disrupt them and affect their productivity in the shop, therefore you should emphasise to employees that mobile phones should be kept on silent mode or they should switch them off. This will also help reduce the noise from mobile phones affecting other colleagues’ concentration.

Decide where phones should be stored

You should have rules on whether employees should allow them to keep their phone in their pockets, or whether they must have them leave them in locker room, staff room or a place where they can store their other belongings.

Leave the room to make a call

If an employee needs to make a call of a personal nature, you should encourage them do so in a quiet area to avoid disturbing colleagues. You should encourage them to do it in the back office of the shop or to go outside.

Turn off during meetings

Inform employees that they should not use mobiles in meetings to disrupt the flow of the meeting. If you are having a team meeting about new products or promotions  in the shop, there is nothing worse than someone focusing on their phone and not paying any attention to the important topics of the day.

Take care when driving

For any employees that drive as part of their work duties, you must make sure they realise they should not make or receive calls, whether hand-held or hands-free , while driving. They should switch it off and make all calls go to voicemail. If they do need to use their mobile phone, they should pull over and stop in a safe place, turn off the engine and make or receive the call.

Reiterate that they must comply with this legal duty; otherwise they may end up facing disciplinary proceedings. If they repeatedly breach this policy, this may result in dismissal.

Do not allow misuse

If you do provide an employee with by a mobile phone in order to perform their duties, make it clear to the employee that it is property of the company. It can be withdrawn and it must be returned when their employment ends. If you consider that an employee is misusing their phone by making excessive personal calls, you can ask them to meet the costs of any non-business related calls.

Tell your employees the rules

Make sure that you communicate the rules to the employees. It is considered good practice to get your employee to sign a form clearly stating that they have read and understood the policy. Make sure the policy is easily accessible to them.

Enforce the policy

Having rules is great, but you also need to make sure that you enforce them. Constantly letting employee send a quick text here and there will send out the wrong message and they will think that, despite the policy, they can use their mobile as they wish.

Be fair and consistent

Make sure you apply the policy in a fair and consistent way in order to avoid employee concerns, a negative impact on team morale and discrimination.   If you take different action for the same offence, it is likely that an Employment Tribunal would find this unfair and potentially discriminatory.

To obtain advice on this topic, please contact bira legal on 0345 450 0937 or email