PRHR Question: Phones at Work


mobileReader question.

What are your thoughts on non-exempt employees getting personal calls on their cell phones during normal working hours?

Here are my thoughts: when it comes down to it, we are all hourly. The differentiation between exempt and non-exempt is sketchy—and I call bullshit on the whole entire structure. My corporate legal team asked me to move a group of secretaries to exempt, one year, and had me move another group of secretaries to the non-exempt status. Then we flipped it all around and changed them back. It was a nightmare, and if I hear one more employment lawyer blame it on the evolving interpretation of FLSA rules, I am going to barf.

That being said, I don’t care if someone takes a call during work unless it’s obnoxious, distracting the employee from work, or it is a safety issue. This covers all employees, non-exempt or exempt from overtime.

Here are some examples where people shouldn’t yammer on a mobile phone.

  • You work at Wendy’s? Put down the phone. You are paid to keep the place clean and provide service to your customers. There’s no time to chat on the phone unless you score 100% on both fronts.
  • You are a receptionist and you chat on your phone, all day long, because there is nothing else to do? Guess what. I don’t care. You are paid to sit there and be ready to greet people. You can’t properly greet people if you are yapping on the phone.
  • You work on a construction crew and you hold up the SLOW/STOP sign? I don’t want to see a mobile phone in your hand. Ever. Pay attention to your job, buddy.

What are your thoughts?

[Revised with a picture of a security guard standing outside of my local bank—on a break, I would assume, but I didn’t see another security guard inside. Maybe I’m not a security expert, but it seems weird to have an armed woman standing in front of your bank, smoking a cigarette, and texting her boyfriend.]

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