Employment in The Age of Smartphones – If My Boss Emails Me When I’m Not At Work Do I Have to Reply?

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Employment in The Age of Smartphones – If My Boss Emails Me When I’m Not At Work Do I Have to Reply?
Age of Smartphones

In this day and age, almost everyone has some sort of a phone, whether it is an old flip phone or a smart phone.  But, surveys show that while many people have Smartphones and cell phones, more and more people are doing less and less work… at work!  In fact, studies show that 20% of an employee’s time at work is wasted doing things like surfing the web, playing games, being on social media accounts, even talking to friends – all while on the clock.  If you use a phone while on the clock or you are an employer that has noticed some or a lot of your workers failing to finish projects or lack of productivity, there are a few things you might want to ask yourself, alternatively, if you are an employee and you think what you do on your phone is your business, here are also a few things you need to think about when at work and using a Smartphone.

Smartphones and After Hour Work

If you have an employee that is off the clock and they are telling you that they are dealing with clients while on the road, or at home, should you have to compensate them for this work even though its off the clock?  Honestly, this is a really tricky question when it comes to the department of labor because essentially anyone could say they are dealing with clients off the clock – and they are either telling the truth, or they could be lying just to try and get more money out of the deal.  One way to stop this from happening is to make it clear to both employees and clients, that when an employee is off the clock, they cannot receive phone calls – no matter how urgent the situation.  Another thing you can do is actually give the employees phones and keep track of calls, this has to all be done legally though – i.e.; you can’t do it and not tell your employees about it!  It’s more work this way but if you want to really keep track of everything, this might be the way to do it.

Can you Monitor Your Employees Use of Social Media and The Internet

In all honesty, yes you can monitor their use of social media and the internet; however, there are a few things to consider.  First off, the computer they use and the phone they use have to be company owned – you cannot just monitor someone is they have a phone that you did not give to them i.e.; they bought on their own.  Second off, there has to be a policy in place before you monitor them i.e.; you can’t have a policy, monitor them, scold them, fire them, suspend them, etc. and then expect everything to be okay – this is actually against the law and you could end up in some hot water if you as an employer do this.  When someone gets hired the policy should state that on their company-owned laptop, PC or phone that they should have no expectation of privacy and that at any time they can be monitored for their usage and time.  The employee should also have to sign this policy so that there is no confusion if it does end up happening.

Can I Block Outgoing Websites?

As an employer, yes, you do have a right to block certain websites; this can include news websites, comedy/entertainment/fun websites, and certain search engines, even social profiles like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  However, just remember that if an employee has their own phone i.e.; not company owned, that they can still access these sorts of websites at their discretion on their own Smartphones – even while at work.

Can An Employer Monitor The Use Of Smartphones?

Yes, when you are on the clock, your employee does have the right to monitor your use of your phone.  Furthermore, they can prohibit using it at all on the clock.  For example, most companies say in writing that they prohibit the use of Smartphones on the clock, but on breaks, lunch, out of the office and of the clock you are allowed to use your cell phones and Smartphones.

It may seem like the age of technology is driving you up a wall as an employer but as long as you have those policies in place that prohibits or allows certain things, you should be able to keep an eye on your employees and have them doing less Tweeting and more working.  Alternatively, if you are on the employee side of things and you find that your employer is illegally monitoring you, it might be a good idea to contact a top employment attorney to see if the actions are illegal or not.

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