When discussing safety elements with clients and business owners, one topic that is always popular is “Cell Phone Usage.” There are several elements to consider when thinking about implementing a cell phone policy including:
- How do I best protect my business?
- How to I put restrictions in place that will not affect the efficiency of my company?
- How do I make it fair to my employees?
States are now jumping on board making state laws that prohibit cell phone usage and texting while behind the wheel. Currently, 34 states ban text messaging for all drivers and 9 states prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. In several recent claims our agency has seen, the other party has requested cell phone records to determine if a driver was on the phone at the time of the accident.
If you’re considering a cell phone/electronic use device policy, here are some Do’s and Don’ts to writing a policy…
- address the current state laws and any local ordinances in place. Make sure that the policy you draft speaks to the local regulations where your employees will be driving.
- be reasonable with your policy and understand that employees work long hours. Sometimes cell phone use is needed for communication between employees and their family members. It’s important to recognize this for workplace morale and retention.
- consider having a provision in place regarding cell phone cameras. Do you have intellectual property, trade secrets, personal customer information or other confidential data that could be captured and sent with cell phone camera?
- allow ample time for your employees to review and sign the policy as well as ask any questions.
- realize that cell phone policies are not a “one size fits all.” What may work for one employer, may not work for your company.
- address that the Company has the rights to monitor usage of company-issued phones for excessive or irregular use.
- address what an employee’s expectations are for personal use of a company owned cell phone. Also address the employee’s expectations for protecting the cell phone and returning it upon resignation or termination.
- protect yourself. If the cell phone is company-issued as well as the vehicle, you may want to prohibit cell phone use all together while an employee is driving your company vehicle.
- make sure to have any written policy reviewed by your attorney before handing it out to employees.
- forget other electronic devices that may fall under this policy. Do you have a production area? Do those employees listen to music on their i-pods or MP3 players? Can the headphone wires be a safety hazard? If you have company-issued laptops, think about security requirements for wireless internet.
- forget to have ALL employees sign and date your policy once it’s written and in place.
The Accel Group has several samples of a cell phone/electronic device use policy that we’d be happy to share with you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or if you would like a sample of a cell phone/electronic use device policy.