Texting your friends or posting social media updates could become less common, as some employers are beginning to confiscate workers’ smartphones in an attempt to increase productivity.
Mike Clancy, the General Secretary of the Prospect trade union, has warned that this policy is creating “a new front for friction” between employees and the companies they work for, as many supervisors worry that they cannot trust their staff to resist using social media during working hours.
While it is common practice for many retailers, including Tesco, to require their employees to place their smartphones in lockers during working hours, more office-based employers are instituting this policy.
A director of a marketing company in West Yorkshire told The Times that he will no longer hire employees who won’t agree to relinquish their phones during working hours. Gerard O’Shaughnessy, of Business Marketing Services in Cleckheaton, added that he was so upset about the personal use of phones during working hours that he now confiscates them until employees break for lunch.
The British Library has instituted a similar policy for the staff at its café, who must relinquish their phones to their supervisor to avoid the temptation to use them when they aren’t serving customers. However, that policy is under investigation after a professor at the London School of Economics complained to The Guardian.
So, does your boss have the right to confiscate your phone? Alex Monaco, the senior partner at employment law firm Monaco Solicitors, weighed in on the issue in a statement to The Sun Online. In his opinion, unless your employment agreement specifies that your employer can confiscate your phone, they can’t do it.