Mobile Phone Policy in the Workplace
A mobile phone policy will cover several different aspects of mobile phone use, and if employers have already been using mobile phones in their organisation for a while, introducing a policy may just be a case of confirming in writing what has already been happening in practice for some time. If this is the case then employers should have no problem implementing such a policy in an organisation.
Employers would need to distribute the policy to their employees, or at least draw the employees’ attention to it and place it in an accessible location in the workplace where employees have the opportunity to see it and get employees to sign their agreement to it.
If, however, the policy is being implemented because of a need for financial cutbacks, then it is likely that the policy will mean the withdrawal of some financial benefit that employees currently enjoy in relation to their mobile phone bills. If this is the case, introducing the policy may be a little more difficult. Where a practice has gone on for some time in an organisation, it can be said to make up part of an employee’s terms and conditions.
Changing terms and conditions requires employees’ agreement and changes should not be attempted without obtaining agreement. So if you have been paying the whole sum of the phone bill for each employee, including personal calls that are not related to work, then to stop doing this may be seen as a change to the terms and conditions of the employee’s employment. Therefore, it would be advisable for employers to get the agreement of employees before introducing this policy.
Employees should be consulted over the proposed change – this means that they should be informed of the action you propose to take, and they should be shown a draft policy and then be given the opportunity to raise any issues they may have with it. Employees should be asked to provide a signature to reflect the fact that they have read the policy and agree to its contents. To ensure that the process does not drag on unduly, employees should be informed of a date by which they should return their signed agreement, but also that they can discuss any of any problems the proposed change raises.
Some employees may understand that, when the financial position is not as strong as previously, that it is not viable for the organisation to continue to pay for bills not related to work and will sign their agreement to the policy. You can then make the changes to the way the bills are dealt with.
Some employees may be opposed to the change to their long-standing benefit and may refuse to sign their agreement. Offering an incentive to all employees may help make the transition a little easier.
If employees still refuse to agree to the change, there are routes for an employer to take under the disciplinary procedure which in certain rare circumstances could ultimately end in the employee’s dismissal. However, this is not a decision to take lightly and specific advice should always be taken in such circumstances.