Posted on February 22, 2016

Ask HR: Employee Cell Phones: Can We Ban Them?

What is a more ubiquitous technology than cell phones? Everyone has them, from children to adults to...your employees. How do you manage when cell phone usage on the job gets out of hand at your company? The pros at HR Support Center recently tackled this tricky question.


What are the laws regarding cell phones at work? Personal use by our employees has gotten out of hand. Can we change our policy to say that cell phones are not permitted on the premises?

Answer from Sarah, HR Pro:

Thank you for your question. I can certainly understand the frustration of having employees on their phones frequently and the need to implement a policy to limit this use. There is no law saying you cannot implement a policy prohibiting cell phones on the property, but I would recommend a different approach.

Banning cell phones from the property would likely decrease employee morale as there are times (e.g., break times or family emergencies) when employees may need to be able to make or take personal calls. Instead of restricting phones altogether, you could instead restrict cell phone use to break times and to designated areas away from employee workstations where an employee can make those phone calls.

In either situation, eliminating all calls or restricting use, you will want to address how your employee’s family members will reach them during working hours in case of a true emergency. One option is to have the calls filter through your reception desk. Alternately, it may be a good idea to have a second line to your company that is for employee emergencies.

Whatever you decide, you need to hold your employees accountable to the standards you set. Employees who fail to adhere to these standards should be disciplined according to your policy.

Sarah, HR ProSarah has extensive Human Resources experience in the legal, software, security and property preservation industries. She has a Business Communications degree from Villa Julie College (now Stevenson University) and a master’s certificate in Human Resources Management and a Strategic Organizational Leadership certification from Villa Nova University. Sarah is also a member of the National Society of Human Resources Management and has managed the HR function for small startup companies to mid-sized/large organizations.

Do you have questions like this? One entire year of HR Support Center is cheaper than just one hour of a typical attorney's time. Ask us instead.

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