Personal cell phone usage

We have a person who receives personal phone calls on her cell phone during working time.  This creates a disruption to those who sit near her.  I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to how to handle this situation.  At present, there is no company policy against personal cell phone usage.


  • 10 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • We have a policy that restricts cell phone use to breaks and meal times, but our employees are working face-to-face with customers. Maybe it can be handled by the employee's supervisor as a productivity issue?
  • If it's a disruption to other employees I don't know that the absence of a policy should be standing in your way.  If an employee blew bubble gum and popped bubbles all day, and drove his co-workers crazy that way, you wouldn't need to have a policy against bubble gum usage in order to raise the issue with the employee, would you?

    It's a disruption to the concentration and productivity of others--the employee's supervisor should tell her so in no uncertain terms that it is...and ask her to refrain from it during work time. 

  • We have a policy on receiving personal calls during work time, and we recently revamped our policy to include cell phone usage.  In reality, though, we know that cell phones have become part of daily life, so we leave this issue up to the individual's supervisor.  If an employee's usage is impacting his or her performance or disrupting our other workers, our supervisors have the green light to deal with it accordingly. 

  • I agree with Country Girl that this should be an issue left to supervisors, who know employees' childcare, eldercare, and other personal situations. 

    To broadly ban any personal calls is unrealistic if you are trying to make your company family-friendly.  We allow employees to call children to make sure they arrived home from school safely or to take calls from children during afterschool hours, as long as the calls are not long or excessive.

    Employees should be made aware that if they do make a personal call from work, there is no guarantee of privacy because colleagues may overhear.  If employees want privacy, they should go outside to use cell phones during lunch or break times.


  • Guess what!  There are now special "cell phone booths" created for restaurants, but employers could install one in a common area like a cafeteria. The booth lets callers have privacy and keeps others from having to listen to their conversations.  Of course, the callers could only use the booth on breaks, lunch, etc. The article I saw in Readers Digest listed a

  • Employers don't even need to buy a booth - a simple empty office or conference room will do. 
  • Our company has written into our policy restricting cell phone usage to the lunch hour and break time.  We are a Woodworking Manufacturer and it's strictly enforced due to the safety issues involved.  There were a few attempts to get around this by stating it was an "important" call, so a meeting was held discussing what is warranted as "emergent" and directing those calls to come through the office. 
  • If workers keep their ringtone set to "vibrate", so there's no noise when it rings, and if they are instructed NOT to disrupt (or leave) workplace meetings by taking a cell phone call, then I don't know what else needs be done to address "cell phone" conversations than you would for a desk telephone. Some people tend to have loud, obnoxious ring tones (Mambo #5, anyone?) and others feel compelled to "take the call" even when they're in a meeting.  Take these 2 nuisances away, and your cell phone policy can mirror your telephone policy (except for the issue of long-distance calls, of course, since the desk phones are company property).

    You probably have a policy for the use of telephones, and if someone took constant personal calls on their telephones at their desk, you'd have to address it if it affected performance or was a major distraction to others.  In terms of enforcement, I think County Girl's idea of leaving it to supervisors of specific work groups to ultimatley decide whether the situation warrants intervention is a good one.

  • I think everyone is missing the point here.  You don't need to specifically have a use of cell phone policy to put a stop to cell phone usage.  This person is being paid to do a job not talk on the cell phone.  Doing any thing other than the job is 'theft of company time'.  There is no need to talk about disturbing other workers or cell phone booths.  You simply go through the progressive discipline process & if necessary terminate them.  It will stick because I've done this before with excellent results.  No discrimination claims, no unemployment, no reprecussions what so ever.
  • I totally disagree with hserv.  In a perfect world where our children and parents and grandparents all had people to take care of them outside of the employee, principals, teachers, pharmicists, laywers etc. all worked around our schedules and we all had great health, didnt need checkups or results or to talk to doctors, maybe your scenario would be feasable and acceptable.  But the bottom line is we don't live in a perfect world and these things are a natural and important part of our lives.  As long as the calls are legitimate whether by desk phone or cell phone and they are not excessive there is no reason to "handle" anything.  As H.R. people we are obligated to look at these types of things from both sides the Employer and the Employee.  It helps the Employer if the Employees are not worrying from 3 to 5 o'clock if thier kids got home ok or spending the morning worrying over a test result that has to wait untill their lunch time to get.   Our lives are getting more and more complicated and we need to find ways to make it work for both sides.

    My own personal oppinion as an H.R. and Finance Manager: 

    If I worked for a company that didnt allow my children to call me when they were safely home from school or for the nursing home to call me and tell me they need permission to do something for my grandmother, they wouldn't have to fire me I'd be gone, in a heartbeat.



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