Sneaky employee is making personal calls

Question: We have a company policy that does not permit employees to make/take personal phone calls during business hours without a supervisor’s permission. I have an employee who has been warned verbally and in writing for abusing the policy.

Co-workers have complained that the employee makes personal phone calls while I am out of the room. My supervisor informs me that either myself or another supervisor must catch this person making the personal call.

If I leave the room and come back and suspect that a personal call is being made, the person pretends that she is talking to a customer. (This person is a customer service rep.) I am looking for any advice on this situation. – Darlene


We have a VOIP phone system and all calls coming in and going out are recorded, which is great when you forgot who called or if you need to call someone back and you can’t find the number.

Before our VOIP phones each month I received a printout of all call made in/out from all the different phones in our office so people could be charged appropriately that may be something to think about.

It seems somewhat unreasonable to not allow ANY personal calls during business hours. Certainly your company allows breaks, in accordance with current laws. Could you encourage your employees to schedule and take their regular breaks and make their personal calls at that time?

I think it is a little unreasonable for you to be required to catch her in the act. If multiple people have reported it, then I would do an investigation. I would ask each of the co-workers to document all the times they think the person was on a personal call and to write down, as it was happening, why they think it was personal. (In other words, what did they overhear to make them think that.) After sufficient evidence, I would fire the person since she has been warned both verbally and in writing.

I also think it is unreasonable to not allow any personal calls. I work M-F from 8-5, if I were unable to make or receive any personal calls I would never be able to schedule a doctor’s appointment, talk to anyone at my bank, make sure the kids got home safe from school, or take care of any other personal business with companies that also only operate M-F from 8-5. I would hope you have more important things to do than devise a scheme to catch this employee. If the employee is not getting her work done that is one thing, but it seems maybe you’re so interested in busting her that maybe you’re not getting your own work done.

It does seem unreasonable not to allow any personal calls. Maybe it would be easier to quantify if you could approach it from a productivity standpoint. Periodically require this person and her peers to keep a log of customer service calls made/received, length of call, resolution. When it becomes obvious that this person is far behind her peers in legitimate business transactions you could address that. If it turns out she is actually as productive as her counterparts, maybe it is a non-issue.

My suggestion: allow employees to make and take personal phone calls at lunch and on their break. Waive this requirement for any type of emergency or anything dealing with school-age children in order to avoid potential litigation. And, if you can get a printout of outgoing and incoming calls, you can monitor the “abuser”.

Yes, it seems quite unreasonable and actually foolish! That’s what am, pm, and lunch breaks are for…just ask employees to use their timely wisely. Telephone printouts can be obtained, but only serve to show just how much “Big Brother” is watching. I’d suggest the others get back to work and stop watching your phone culprit. That’s why I hate working in an office with women…too caddy…too much foolishness. Can’t people just do their jobs. Incredible!

I would not want to work for a company that monitored my personal calls so closely. I have teenagers who check in with me on their whereabouts and I sometimes work through my lunch or long after everyone else leaves the building. I work very hard for my employer and I feel respected because they also realize that I have a life outside of work. Micromanagement would have me running in the other way–and my company would have lost a GREAT employee!

I can’t believe you and others are so concerned about personal phone calls. If the person is not getting their work done then the issue is probably not only phone calls, but maybe disinterest in the job because of all the outdated rules! Let the person be productive, do her job and don’t worry about the fact that she has a life outside of work! I often times use the personal phone call time to multitask and file, clean up my desk ….always to use time wisely.
lighten up!

Here again we have the “office phone police”. People who have nothing better to do than rat on their co-workers. I tell you, if I had a buck for every person I have known who just either has no life of their own or doesn’t have enough work to do so they could resist being busy bodies, I could go out for a real nice dinner. (I do have a life.)

I agree with all the people who have written comments that monitoring people’s personal phone calls is ludicrous! We are all adults and need to take care of personal things at different times during an average week while at work. That’s just part of life! I don’t know of a single employee who has never made a personal phone call during business hours (especially now with the advent of cell phones). Give me a break!

I work for a university and one of my co-workers will make personal calls on her work phone or on her cell phone for an hour at the time. Now, in my opinion that is abuse. I have no problem with making a doctor’s appointment or something like that, because most of the time the places we need to call are closed by the time we get home. But, to simply talk on the phone to a “buddy” for an hour at work is, in my opinion, theft. She is stealing time for which she is being PAID to work. So, be reasonable and allow for making appointments and such, but abuse, like I just mentioned is not to be tolerated. So, is this person abusing the system? Are her phone calls for chatting and how long is each call?

Either enforce the rules, or change them. Overhearing another on the phone cannot be helped when we work with just a fabric wall separating us. Because management has a rule and other’s don’t follow it, that action causes dissension among the ranks. The overhearer is not the problem, they are trying to work; it’s the talkative one who is pushing the boundaries. Talk to them and explain how it’s not about them, but others too!