Personal use of company’s phone
Mobile phones, just like other company resources, are given to employees of various companies. The mobile phones have been given to employees so as to make these employees more connected, and thus more available. Due to technological advancement, various services such as customer services have been improved. The same companies have, however, observed that these mobile phones have been a source of distractions (Jennings, p. 36). The mobile phones are major corporate liability exposure for employee acts. Most employees are always tempted to make personal phone calls using the company’s mobile phones. Making of personal phone all results to time and money wastage.
The stakeholders here are the employees, the business and the employer. All the three are affected by the policies that are to be drafted. The employees are stakeholders in this case since they are the ones given these resources such the mobile phones. It is these employees who misuse these devices given to them (Anandarajan, p. 47). The policy on mobile usage will affect the employees directly. The policy will dictate how they are expected to use the devices given to them by the business. The policy will also have the disciplinary actions to be taken when the said employees to not obey the policies.
The business is also a stakeholder in this case. The business is a stakeholder because it is the one that accrue the losses that result from poor use of mobile phones given to the employee. The business will, therefore, benefit directly once a policy is implemented to curb the poor use of the company’s mobile phones. The employers are in charge of formulating policies that govern the use of mobile phones. They are, therefore, stakeholders as they are accountable to the actions of their employees.
Federal and state laws
The employer may want to monitor the phone calls of employees at work. It is acceptable for an employee to monitor calls between employees and clients for the purposes of controlling quality (Jennings, p. 88). State law, however, requires that both the employees and the clients are informed of the ongoing recording. This law is articulated in the California Public Utility Commission General order (107 B).
Under Electronic Communications Privacy Act, there guidelines regulating calls with people from outside the state. The Act does not allow employers to monitor business-related phone calls without noticing the employee as well as the client.
The employer is expected to stop the monitoring process upon realization that a call is personal. This is articulated in the federal case law. In case the employees have been told that the phones are not meant for personal calls, they take their risk since the call will be monitored.
The federal laws allow employers to monitor communication between an employee and a fellow employee. The employer is also allowed to obtain phone records containing dialed numbers, as well as the length of the calls. This information is useful in knowing the amount of time spent by each employee with clients. Pen registers are helpful in recording the information. This type of monitoring is subject to question since, most employers evaluate the efficiency of their employees using the information obtained without considering the quality of these calls (Jennings, p. 36). In as much as employees would like to monitor conversations of the employees at all times, there are some state laws preventing employers from monitoring all conversations of employees. Monitoring personal calls is not allowed by the federal laws even if the calls are made by the business’s phone.
Provision of phones to employees by companies is seen as a major step to improving productivity of employees. However, this act has led to serious ethical implications. Due to job pressures, employees may be forced to use these mobile phones while driving. This is not ethical; the employers are, therefore, torn between giving the employees mobile phones or not. The ethical dimension that presents itself here is personal accountability (Anadarajan, p. 86). There is an increase in the number of regular accidents resulting from driving while on phone as shown by statistics. The irresponsibility of these drivers causes danger to other motorists as well as themselves.
The employees’ who have been found driving while using mobile phones have pushed the blame to their employers. The employees claim that their employers make them work for long hours and from distant locations. Because of this, they are tempted to use the phone provided to them with putting guidelines. The employers may resort to monitoring employees’ calls, so to save the company from poor use of resources. The ethical issue that arises here is privacy (Jennings, p. 74). The employees have the right to privacy but when they are not monitored most of them will use the business’s phone to make personal calls. This will result into losses by the business. Monitoring employee’s all the time makes them not be at ease thus lowering their morale. This is also not beneficial to a business that requires its employees to be proactive. Ethical dilemma presents itself here. The employer’s want to do what is right but in so doing they fear this might affect the success of their business.
Formulating and enforcing the cell phone policy is crucial to businesses that provide phones to its employees. The cell phone policy will help in ensuring employees perform well. The cell phone policy will also protect the company from liabilities as well as lawsuits. The best phone usage policy does not only give expectations for employees, but will also consider the safety issues, security issues and phone call privacy issues, and address them (Anandarajan, p. 82). Once a good cell phone usage policy is drafted, other company’s technological resources will be used appropriately. The cell phone usage policy should address all the laws that are available concerning driving. These laws prohibit drivers from using handheld devices while driving. The policy should, therefore, be in line with these regulations.
Long Hours Employees: The policy should be reasonable. There are those employees who work for long hours. These employees leave their houses at dawn and come back late at night. To ensure that such employee’s morale is improved, the employer should allow such employees to make phone calls to their family members.
The Vibrate Function: All employees should tune their mobile phones to the vibrate function since they are in a professional working environment. This would greatly help to reduce the level of noise or disruptions coming from phone calls.
Use of Camera Phones: The policy should govern the use of camera phones. The use of camera phones presents several risks to organizations. The employees may take photos of trade secret documents and other confidential information easily. There is a difference between formulating a policy and ensuring the policy is followed. A policy may be the best but when it is not properly implemented or administered, it will be just paperwork. Employers should ensure that, in making the policies governing mobile phone usage, they give consequences that may be faced by employees when they do not follow the rules of the policy.
Phone Use During Meetings: The policy should strictly prohibit the use of mobile phones, either picking calls or texting, during meetings, brainstorming sessions or conferences. This is simply because it would lead to intense disruption and lack of concentration. A better way to ensure that this policy is adhered to would be to request all employees to leave their phones at their work stations all together.
Responsible Use of Organization’s Phones: The policy should allow the company to review the monthly phone charges. This will enable the company trace the usage of phones given to employees. The policy will give the employer the right to punish an employee who irregularly and excessively uses the provided mobile phones. The policy should also make the managerial staff provide a good example of phone usage.
Employee Understanding and Agreement: To ensure proper integration of the policy, employers should give enough time to employees to read and understand the policy. This will prevent the scenario where an employee would claim he/she did not understand the policy terms. The policy should contain the introduction section which describes the purpose of the policy. The purpose should be ascertained very clearly. The policy should have a general use at work section. This should describe how the phone are to be used at work. The policy should also have a section that illustrates the areas and situations where the phones are to be used e.g. while driving. The policy should state that the cell phone given to the employees are to be taken care of by them and that they should be returned when their time of employment ends. Any damages to the phone should be entirely their responsibility (Jennings, p. 90). The policy should not allow the use of camera phone. The company should, therefore, not give phones with cameras to its employees.
Internet connectivity is very beneficial to businesses. The current effective mode of marketing is by use of social media. The social media enable a company to connect with people all over the world. The market is thus widened. It is used as a source of reference when conducting research. It is quick and easy to retrieve any information you may need. However, the internet connectivity also brings about risks that need to be addressed. The employees of a business may poorly use the internet to suit their personal needs. The employees will waste time surfing the internet. The company may also spend additionally in buying the bandwidth. The two cases will lead the business making losses. Businesses must, therefore, come up with policies to regulate the use of internet.
The stakeholders in this case, just like in the other case, are the employees, the employer and the business. They all will be affected by the policy that is to be developed. The employee is the one who will be using the internet connectivity of the business wrongly thus making the business to extra spend. The policy to be implemented affects the employee directly. The policy will dictate the terms and ways in which the employees are to conduct themselves when using the business’s internet connectivity. The policy will give the punishment to be handed to the employees who use the internet connectivity wrongly. The employer has the duty of supervising the performance of all employees (Jennings, p. 83). They are the ones to draft policies that dictate and regulate how employees should conduct themselves. They are the ones to develop the internet usage policy. The business stands to benefit when the employees use its resources correctly, and stand to lose if the employees use its resources poorly. The policy will affect them indirectly since it will ensure the employees use the resources to the benefit of the company, making the company realize profits.
Federal and State laws
Several lawsuits have been filed by employees who claim that their employers have been monitoring their emails. The state invasion of privacy act state that everyone is entitled to privacy. However, most of the cases that have made it to court under this act have been dismissed. The reason for their dismissal has been that the plaintiffs lack a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of their e-mails. This being even after the businesses had given them assurance of privacy.
The major argument would be, what is the reason for having personal passwords? If the business can just decide to view your emails what would be the essence of protecting your information with a password. A case scenario is where Bourke sued Nissan Motor, where the company randomly selected Mr. Burke’s email in training new employees about email systems. The email that was chosen randomly from Burke’s inbox turned out to be personal, in fact, it had some sexual content. The company decided to look at all the emails of its employees. The company obtained several personal emails from the employees’ inboxes and gave them a written warning. The affected employees, in turn, sued Nissan Motor for not respecting personal privacy. The argument of the affected employees was that during the time they were being employed they indeed signed an acknowledgement form that said that the company’s owned software and hardware are restricted to use for the business purposes only. They argued, however that since they were given personal passwords, they had reasonable privacy expectation. The court, however, dismissed the case on grounds that the employees were aware that their emails were being monitored from time to time with the employer. The expectation of the employers was, therefore, found not to be objectively reasonable.
The employers are torn between doing what is right and doing what will benefit the business. It is beneficial for the business to monitor its employees’ usage of internet. It will save the business from accruing losses from misuse of the internet connectivity. It is also right for the employers to give freedom to workers so that they can work at peace. Too much monitoring of employees lowers the morale of the employees, thus lowering their productivity (Jennings, P.92). When the employees are left to work freely without monitoring, they will be motivated to work, to some extent. This type of a scenario is called an ethical dilemma.
Employees are expected to adhere by the ethical code of conduct, which bars them from using resources meant for business to suit their personal needs. The employees should ensure that they do not use internet connectivity wrongly, even if they are not being monitored. The employees should ensure that they use the social networks appropriately. This is because some of them have been found to abuse other people using the platform of the business thus ruining the reputation of the said business.
Special considerations should be made to those employees who work for long hours such that they cannot find time to do some banking or to do shopping. Such employees should be allowed to do these personal activities online in the business. However, for such employees the business should not be allowed to have access to their email messages. This is because; it is not the liking of the person to do these activities online, but it is the business that has made him/her to work for long hours. Otherwise, if the person had free time he/she would go and to these activities in the appropriate places. The business should inform the employees that they are being monitored.
A proper policy should have a purpose. The function of the policy will be to illustrate the appropriate ways of using internet connectivity by employees. The policy should have specific workers to which it applies to. This is known as the scope (Anandarajan, p. 106). The policy should tell the type of employees it applies to. Whether contract workers, full-time workers, part-time workers, temporary workers or workers in general. The affected group is, therefore, expected to be familiar with the rules and understand them. The employees are expected to comply with the regulations articulated in the policy.
Access to The Internet: The internet connectivity will only be provided if the there is an identified reasonable business needs. This ensures that the employees are granted access to the internet depending on their job description. This internet usage will regularly be reviewed to ensure continuing needs are present. The internet should only be granted for the sole purpose of supporting the need of the business. The employees are expected to adhere to the corporate rule on resource usage. The policy will consider disciplinary action when an employee use business’s internet connectivity to suit personal needs without getting an approval from the employer. The employees should be consequently informed that the business has an audit log that reflects requests for services; thus their activities are being monitored. The internet usage policy should make it clear that it is risky to store or transmit personal information through the business’s internet connectivity (Anandarajan, p. 67).
Prohibited Sites: The Company’s Policy, should categorically state and outline the types or classes of websites that the employees are allowed to access. Some irrelevant and immoral websites such as those depicting pictures of pornography should be banned. Moreover, visiting of other gossip and entertainment websites that would greatly disrupt the employees should also be prohibited.
Confidentiality of Email Messages: The policy will articulate clearly that the business cannot promise that email messages will be completely confidential as they will be subject to cross inspection from time to time. The business should make it clear, therefore that it will not be subject to lawsuits o privacy invasion.
Social Networks Discipline: The policy will make it a requirement that the employees conduct themselves in the in the social networks in a manner that maintains the corporate image of the business. Social networks such as Face Book and Twitter are constantly under the public eye and hence all employees should maintain discipline to avoid destroying the image of the company.
Employee Understanding and Agreement: The policy should have the compliance section. This compliance section is divided into two parts the exception and the non-compliance. The exception part illustrates the various entities that are not expected to adhere to the policy. The non-compliance part explains the consequences that would meet those who fail to adhere to the policy. It will have various modes of punishment to be administered to those employees who do not follow the concepts in the policy. The internet usage policy should make it a requirement that all employees sign the internet usage acknowledgment form. The employees should be given time to read and understand the policy before they can sign the acknowledgment form. The form will protect the company from court cases that may arise from the usage of internet. The employees should only sign the form after they have read the form and agree with it.
Anandarajan. M, Thompson S.H Teo, Claire A Simmers, The internet and Workplace Transformation. (2014) M.E. Sharpe Publishers.
Jennings. M Business Ethics: Case Studies and Selected Readings. (2014) Cengage Learning.