In today’s times, it can be difficult to find someone that does not own a cell phone! Most employees justify reasons for using their phones on the job, such as communicating with their children. However in many cases, cell phone privileges are being abused. Case in point: I once called a hygienist that I needed to speak with, and to my horror and dismay, discovered that she answered my call while working on a patient!
In addition to the loss of paid time, many of the extra features on today’s cell phones can create serious problems for employers. The ability to take photos, record voices, and create videos provides several avenues for employees to use technology against the employer.
In the event a wrong hire has been made, an employee could take videos or photos of confidential documents and use them for various illegal purposes and/or set in motion HIPAA violations. Since confidential information and trade secrets can be easily photographed, the practice could be vulnerable to costly litigation. Issues of privacy invasion can also arise from other employees when their picture or video is taken without their knowledge or consent.
Although personal cell phones are employee property, the employer can establish policies regarding how and when they may be used within the practice. Call our office and we will gladly provide you with a sample of such a policy.
The policy can include language that require cell phones to be turned off when the employee is not on a meal or rest break and that the employee can be contacted via office line in emergency situations.
As with any policy, the rules are only effective if they are enforced. Employees violating the Internet or cell phone policies should be subject to discipline, up to and including discharge.
Technology has contributed to improved communications between staff & patients; as well as, improving the team’s efficiency. However as business owners, you cannot afford to allow your team to misuse it, especially when the stakes are high. You can chose to take a back seat until an unfortunate situation presents itself, or you can choose to safeguard the practice. It’s your choice. Employers interested in protecting their practice should determine how they want to manage their business, establish policies to communicate their expectations to their employees, have systems in place to correct employee misconduct, and when necessary, enforce the rules appropriately.