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Can we collect employee cellphones at the door?

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Q. We’ve had it with all the texting and social networking by employees when they’re supposed to be working. Can we just make them check their electronic devices at the door? Telling them to stop when we catch them isn’t working. — J.P., Wisconsin

A. An employer can require its employees to check their electronic devices at the door, but you will then be responsible for their security. Also, while you can limit employees from using electronic devices during working hours, you’d have to allow use during breaks.  

Instead, you could try to modify the employees’ conduct. Revise or create a policy that clearly states employees are responsible for working while they are on company time. Include a progressive disciplinary component, explaining that violations will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Enforce the policy consistently. Issue disciplinary notices of increasing severity. Distribute a copy of the policy to all employees and review the policy with the supervisors and employees.

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Joseph M. Gravish December 21, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Why not avoid the problem entirely and simply ban cellphones from the workplace altogether? Set the policy and consistently (even ruthlessly) enforce it. An employee accepting compensation for time not worked is theft – misconduct – subject to possible termination. Suggest you also provide a point-of-contact (e.g.HR) who would receive and relay emergency calls to employees. As to “telling them to stop” – that’s hardly an approach which will get the results you want.

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