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Jan27

Long bathroom breaks

I was reading past comments regarding employees taking long bathroom breaks but none of them refer to cell phones. I am certain a few of my guys use the bathroom as a platform to browse the internet, call and/or text but cannot prove it. Getting IT involved, is there a device that can be planted in or around the bathrooms that can eliminate reception? There is no reason a cell phone is needed in your workplace bathroom.

There are jamming devices designed to block internet communications; however, they’re completely illegal in America. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) clearly states “that it is a violation of federal law to use a cell jammer or similar devices that intentionally block, jam, or interfere with authorized radio communications such as cell phones, police radar, GPS, and Wi-Fi.”

Plus, these devices would only address a symptom of the problem not the cause. You need to deal with the problem of personal cell phone use directly.

If you don’t already have a policy limiting cell phone use on company property, then implement one. Some employers completely prohibit personal cell phone use while working except, of course, for extenuating circumstances. It’s more employee friendly to simply limit personal communications. So, consider really how disruptive the employees are being and to what extent you want to limit personal cell phone use. Remember to communicate the policy to all staff.

Any employees that violate the policy should be held accountable and disciplined as appropriate. First time offenders should receive a verbal warning and further infractions would warrant a written warning. Subsequent offenders with blatant disregard for the policy should be terminated. Some employers adopt a three strikes you’re out rule. Again, you have to decide just how much the personal communications are really affecting business operations. Also, keep in mind that employment contracts or collective bargaining agreements may dictate employee disciplinary procedures.

You may notice that it’s really only a handful of employees that are abusing their bathroom breaks. If this is the case, consider talking to these employees directly. Meet with them individually. State your concern over there extended bathroom breaks and the disruption its causing to the business and possibly co-workers. Inform them that if there is no medical need to use the bathroom for an extended period of time or so frequently then you expect them to use the facilities only as needed.

Now, if you know for a fact that these employees are using their phones while in the bathroom (i.e. you hear them ticking away or talking) then be direct with them. You can let them know that if they have enough down time to be on their personal phones then you’d be happy to assign them more work.

Lastly, though it’s permissible for employers to be very strict with personal communications while an employee is working, it’s important to consider the importance of employee morale. Completely prohibiting personal communications may cause resentment among employees which can quickly decrease productivity and increase turnover. So, think about how much time these employees are really using in the bathroom and if business operations are actually affected.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 27th, 2016 at 2:35 pm and is filed under
Human Resources Management, Workplace Management.
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