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Saved by the Cell Phone? Best Practices for Your Company

Posted in Highlight, Human Resources (HR) Compliance, Wage & Hour

Saved By The Bell?

What a great turnout we had on Tuesday for our presentation on addressing the challenges of “going mobile” from a company’s human resources perspective.  My thanks to Kris Dunn, the moderator, who put the panel together. 

Other speakers were Madeline Laurano of the Aberdeen Group and Jessica Lee of Marriott.  If you’re not following all of them on Twitter, you’re missing out.

Mobile device use and adoption continue to grow at very high rates.  The introduction of a no-contract iPhone (just announced) will only increase the penetration rate of smart phones as well. 

One of the topics we discussed was whether a company should have a mobile device policy and what should be contained in it.  Fortunately, there are a lot of online resources to point people too.

Jon Hyman, of the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, has recapped 10 things that your mobile device policy should consider here.  And Stephanie Thomas, of the Proactive Employer, discusses the risks of a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy here as well. 

As I said at the presentation, I’d suggest focusing on three core items when thinking about your policy (and add the usual caveat that you should seek legal advice on adopting your own policy to ensure compliance with state and applicable federal laws):

1) Does your policy address the fact that non-exempt employees need to be paid for time worked? If they are checking work e-mail for the purpose of responding and doing work (even on their own personal device), it may be considered work.  So, have clear rules for non-exempt employees about what they can and can’t do with their smartphones during non-working hours.

2) BYOD policies should be thoroughly vetted to address issues such as monitoring, security, and privacy. IBM, for example, recently required its employees to disable Siri on their iPhones.  What happens, for example, if the employer is doing a sex harassment investigation? What access will the employer have to text messages on those devices?  

3) Many states have restrictions on using phones or texting while driving.  It may make sense to have your specific policy suggest that employees not use their phones with driving.

This is still a growing area of law and growing area of concern for HR departments.  As you review your technology policies (many of which haven’t been updated in over a decade), consider adding provisions that address the issues above.