Texting Bill Reminds Employers to Review Policy on Cell Phones

Posted by Kyle Pardo on Feb 15, 2010 11:42:00 AM

Are your employees texting behind the wheel while on company business? The Massachusetts House of Representatives recently approved a ban on texting while driving and the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that operators of commercial vehicles are prohibited from texting on the road.

Employers may wish to set similar rules.

The Massachusetts House bill states that "no operator of a motor vehicle shall use a mobile telephone, mobile electronic device, or other device capable of accessing the Internet to compose, send, or read an electronic message while operating'' a vehicle. Drivers could only text "if the vehicle is stationary and not located in a part of the roadway intended for travel."

It's a good time for your organization to consider implementing a cell phone policy for employees who drive on company business. A 2008 survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 83 percent of survey respondents rated distracted drivers and drivers using cell phones as a "serious" or "extremely serious" problem. Drunk driving was the only issue viewed as more serious.

In addition to prohibiting employees driving on company business from talking or texting on cell phones, you may want to consider the following:

  • If you provide a cell phone for employees, do you have a monthly allowance?
  • Do you have a plan to collect company cell phones upon an employee's termination?
  • Do employees know that all communications made with a company cell phone are the property of the company and the company reserves the right to access, read, and disclose information sent to or received from its system(s)?
  • Do you have a policy notifying employees that electronic media cannot be used for knowingly transmitting, retrieving, or storing any communication that is:

            Discriminatory or harassing; 
            Derogatory to any individual or group; 
            Defamatory or threatening; or
            Engaged in for any purpose that is illegal or contrary to company policies. 

  • Do you have a policy limiting applications from being installed or deleted from company phones without prior management approval?

Visit the AIM Online Resource Center or call the Employer Hotline for a sample cell phone policy.

Topics: AIM, Employment Law, Human Resources, Massachusetts

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