Dallas, TX (Vocus) July 27, 2009
Smartphone once signified a high-level executive or investment banker. Now, more and more lower-level employees use smartphones, such as iPhones and BlackBerrys. This shift has led some employers to create employment policies to address smartphone use. Keith Clouse, a Texas employment lawyer, suggests employers consider the following issues when drafting smartphone policies.
First, an employer should consider the potential liability it could face if it provides smartphones for employees who are covered by overtime statutes. If such an employee uses a company phone to respond to business e-mails after working hours, the company could be liable for overtime pay. For this reason, an employer may wish to provide smartphones only to employees who are exempt from overtime statutes.
Second, an employer should consider etiquette issues. Many employees routinely check e-mail during company meetings. Worse, they sometimes e-mail or text each other with running commentaries about the meeting's agenda. Not only does this reduce the user's ability to retain the information presented, it also distracts others in the room and insults the speaker. An employer may wish to curtail this behavior altogether; few e-mails are so critical that a response is required immediately.
Finally, if the company provides smartphones to ensure that employees will respond to e-mails quickly, the employer should clearly convey its expectations to employees.