Cell phone use and medical emergencies


New Member
Some employees have been abusing their cell phones during business hours and now a memo has been issued stating that they are not allowed to have them out/sitting on their desk while at work.

We have an employee who has an elderly parent in Hospice, as well as one other serious medical illness in her immediate family. When a co worker complained(this is her standard MO) about her having her cell phone out she explained the reason her supervisor and to HR.

She was told that the calls had to be routed through the switchboard however if she is not at her desk the hospice will not leave a message on the work voice mail due to privacy concerns.

Any advice on this?
Who are you in this scenario? Who told her calls must go through the switchboard? If that is the rule, that is the rule. Hopefully this employee will let the switchboard know if a call comes in from X, to page her or to contact a colleague to locate her if she does not answer.

If you are the one to make the decision on the cell phone, tell the nosy one to mind their own business and I would allow it as a special exception, so long as it isn't abused. Or ask the employee to keep it in a drawer/purse/shelf/pocket just to be more discrete.
It wasn't all that many years ago that cell phones didn't exist. There is no inherent right under the law to have access to your cell phone at all time.
My goodness.
Draconian policies often yield legal precedents that impact employers far more than employees not being diligently at work 100% of the time they're on the clock.
Why impose policies that will generate extreme pushback?
It would be simpler to TRUST your employees to do what's right.
If you find an employee abusing your trust, deal with him or her.
Don't agitate the others needlessly.
Trust me, you do that and over time, production and profitability will plummet.
Then what?
Yes, I've employed people, I still employ people.
I trust my people, pay them well, and treat them as I wish to be treated.
The only restrictions placed upon my employees are what the government overlords require; ie, no smoking in the workplace, etc.
I thank my mother daily for pushing my little lazy derriere to obtain a college education and other degrees so I wouldn't have to endure an oppressive overlord employer.
cbg is correct - we had to get by without cell phones previously. I wouldn't make an exception - I'm sure hospice can get a message to her someway. I can see making it but the problem is other employees possibly complaining and/or wanting an exception for this reason or that reason.
There are many workplaces where cell phones are not allowed at all. Personally I allow them and deal with abusers one on one as needed. However if it became a major issue taking up too much of time I would not hesitate to ban them. I have real work to do.
This is one of my personal pet peeves. Everyone should be treated fairly; in the adult world that does not mean everyone gets treated exactly the same. I don't have a problem with the ban if it's too big a problem to address one on one; I also don't have a problem making an exception for someone with truly special circumstances who does not abuse the privilege. I would tell Ms. Nosy Parker that you are exercising your managerial right to make an exception for someone with special, private circumstances and that is none of her concern and you don't particularly care if she thinks that's fair or not. If she's that upset about it, there are plenty of companies that will allow you to keep your cell phone on your desk.
There was an article in a HR pamphlet a while back re abuse of cell phones at work. If employees start abusing the use, then you should have a written policy of no cells phones during work, no exceptions. If someone has an elderly parent, special needs child etc. that they need to communicate with, that can be allowed but not through personal cell phones - have the calls go to a main office line. Someone can transfer the call to work phone, take message or notify employee to return the call. Abuse can be prevented by using office phones.