Can you use your phone during work time?

03/10/2018 by Hicham HMICHE


phone during work time

The rules of procedure to fill the legal void

For obvious reasons, it is impossible for the employer to completely prohibit the use of the telephone in the workplace. However, it must be able to regulate its use, as many studies clearly show that smartphone misuse at work directly affects employee productivity.

In general, when an employee takes the time to make a phone call for personal reasons, this time cannot be included in his working time. Especially since these same studies provide evidence that smartphone use at work can lead to a loss of employee concentration.

As the Labour Code does not specifically describe what abusive use of mobile phones would look like at work, it is up to the employer to adapt and develop internal regulations that mention it. Memos can also be used to indicate the company's policy regarding the use of smartphones on its premises.

Restrict and not prohibit

In most sectors of activity, the employer does not have the power to completely prohibit the use of telephones within the company. For this reason, it is necessary to adapt with internal tools to restrict access. The aim is to regulate excessive use of the telephone and not to ban it. Because the mobile phone is still essential in emergencies and exceptional cases.

Develop a charter of good conduct for the company

Also known as a relational charter, the charter of good conduct is added to the internal regulations to ensure moral balance within the company. Unlike collective agreements, the code of conduct is an internal source of labour law, which allows each employer to shape it in the image of his company, so that it is both beneficial to the company itself and to its employees.

As a result, the charter of good conduct may immediately mention the relationship of good faith that must exist between the employer and the employee regarding the use of the latter's telephone. Because it is always useful to remember that within a company, it is essential to have a relationship of trust to create a calm and serene atmosphere on a daily basis.

What does the CNIL say about it?

For the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL), it is permitted for each employee to use his or her telephone at work, without being listened to, spied on or geolocated, provided that this use is made in a responsible manner.

However, it should be recalled that the simplified standards adopted by the CNIL have been replaced by the entry into force of the "General Data Protection Regulation" (GDR) on 25 May 2018.

Sectors more permissive than others

The question of the telephone at work does not arise in the same way in all professional fields. Indeed, in some sectors, the constant use of the smartphone is not only tolerated, but can also be indicated for use. Once the job justifies the use of the smartphone, it becomes more difficult to distinguish whether the employee uses the device for professional or personal purposes. Here again, it is a matter of building trusting relationships with employees so that they do not have to ask themselves these kinds of questions. Because even if it is often underestimated, corporate communication makes it possible to overcome many problems that seem insoluble at first sight.

Thus, it is recommended that the employer set the rules of his company at the job interview in order to avoid unpleasant surprises on arrival.

The boss must also give the example

In all areas, it is also up to the leader to set an example. It is therefore important that management demonstrate moderate use of their smartphones at work so as not to create a regulation with double standards. If necessary, it will even be possible to organize company seminars to involve specialists who will address the issue of addiction to new technologies in order to raise awareness among all the company's employees.

A single watchword: decorum

It is also the employee's role to be serious in the workplace and not to abuse the mobile phone at any time. As a result, if the employee is required to speak on the telephone outside of his break time, he is advised to do so in an isolated area where his voice will not disturb his colleagues who work. In addition, if this call is made outside the break time, it should be shortened as much as possible in order to return to his position as soon as possible. By respecting these rules of use as well as those indicated in the internal regulations and the charter of good conduct, the employee will be responsible and in line with the values of his company.

What about sanctions?

In some scenarios, it happens that an employee, despite all these recommendations, ends up misusing his mobile phone in the workplace. When this happens, the employer can take administrative measures to punish him for his misconduct. However, the employer must be able to prove that the sanctioned employee has indeed shown excessive use of his or her smartphone. A particularly delicate procedure in companies that refuse to use video surveillance on their premises.

But don't panic, as many business leaders say that a simple call to order is often enough to refocus the employee in the event of disproportionate use of the mobile phone in the office. This is reassuring for all employers who want to create real relationships of trust with their future employees.

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