Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Your Employer And Your Mobile Phone. What's the Mix?

Recently a friend of mine was castigated by her employer for not being available on mobile phone when she was on leave. The employer was seeking to cancel her leave because the colleague who was sitting in for her fell suddenly ill. But she had switched off her phone and gone upcountry and the company could not reach her. The company did not collapse either. In fact nothing stopped. It turned out that there were other ways available to ensure that work continued even in the absence of her and her sick colleague.

But when she reported back to work there was a case awaiting her. The employer quoted a part of her employment letter that read thus: The normal working hours of the company are from 8.00 am to 1.00 pm and 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm from Monday to Friday, but as a senior member of staff it may be necessary from time to time for you to extend these hours or even work over the weekends. That is the bit the company used against her. But nowhere in the letter is being on mobile alert or cancellation of leave mentioned. Apparently that fell under ‘extend these hours’. But she does not consider herself senior anyway.

The question is, how much does your employer have to do with your private mobile phone? Should an employer call you any time they feel like it? According to about.com, your boss should only be calling you during normal operating hours and not after hours. If your boss or other co-workers are calling you after hours or on weekends, you must bring this up to a higher supervisor. In order to maintain smooth relationships with co-workers you should work within the "normal" operating hours of the office.

Some people are under the mistaken impression that because you work at home, you are available whenever they feel that it is convenient. To avoid problems from the beginning of a telecommuting arrangement, have it specified in your Agreement exactly when you can be called.

Freelancers should also set limits on when they can be reached and what the methods of contact are.

My friend’s case ended with just a verbal reminder that she can be required to avail herself at work on short notice but this just shows the complications that come about with the whole mobile phone thing.


31337 said...

i had the same problem but discussed with my boss about the fact that it is my private line and i can choose who to speak with at any time and should he have a matter pertinent and urgent i may only be reached by email or sms, not an intrusive phone call whence i shall choose whether to reply or call him back regarding how to proceed.

at the end of the day it remains my choice what i do about whatever crisis he may be getting in touch about.

as in the case of clients asking for my mobile number i politely request that they kindly use the office numbers or email address for official correspondence and do not give out my phone number at any cost.

Shiko-Msa said...

Intelligensia thanks.

There are other employers who are getting trickier by providing a phone and air time or post paid especially to those who are operating from outside the office. So the phone is company property. but they still continue to call them outside hours.

And there are other people on the opposite side. they're given leave and they go but they still keep calling the office from their villages to check on every issue in the office. They think the company will collapse or something. we have one such senior in our work place.

Mountainous said...

I fall in the category where I am provided with a company mobile and credit so I can't really complain when I am called after hours. But it all depends on the nature and sensitivity of your job.

Nairobian said...

you are quite on point with this article! Im frequently called at odd hours and dont i hate it! The issue of drawing up an agreement at this juncture is mute coz many people are already under a contract of employment which is hardly reviewed but left to rust in the HR filling cabinets!

Shiko-Msa said...

Mountainous haki some of these jobs. I know someone who had to have not a phone but a Motorola walkie talkie by his bedside! But he didn't seem to mind because once he started a job he preferred to follow it up to the end. His was quite a sensitive job. As for his guests they just had to get used to it.

Nairobian it gets worse when not just the employer calls but the clients. And you're expected to have all the facts with you at all times somehow.

Gitts said...

It all depends on what your agreement with. Where I work if you are senior you can avail yourself outside working hours and must be ready to assist when called upon.

About he leave-I think that's a lot of crap. there is also a clause in the contract on leave entititlement. If you r boss needed you he/she would not have approved the leave so once you're absent reporting to work is a matter of courtesy. They should make other arrangements unless they absolutely need you.

Maua said...

If I'm off duty, there has to be someone else I've either handed over to, or assigned to undertake 'any other matter'. My leave is hard earned, and it should not be tampered with.

When it gets to this, I say, 'kwani kazi ni ya mama yangu?'.

Shiko-Msa said...

Gitts karibu. Even at our workplace seniors must be ready to work any time even though mostly that does not happen.

You're right about the leave. When the boss couldn't get my friend on phone, work still went on without her. That means it was possible all along even though her replacement fell ill too. It goes to show that they had not explored all options before trying to call her back.

Lol Maua. With all the acts where you're at I doubt anyone would try to recall you. Otherwise you can always pull out a 'Workers on Leave discrimination act'. hahaha. No, kazi si ya mama yako.

On a limb with Claudia said...

Gosh, I just hate this! I know so many people that start working 24/7 due to their blackberry or cell phone. ARRGGG!!

Shiko-Msa said...

On a Limb With Claudia what is even more frustrating, some people can't just switch off their phones because they too have stuff of their own they want to do with it. Like browsing. Or they have to keep it on to communicate with family.

Anonymous said...

Where I work its a small company. We meet every Tuesday in the morning and openly discuss what we think should be ironed out. I think in one of your meetings, you should raise the issue and come to an agreement on how to go about it. Make a little sacrifice and the office makes its own too.

Like I have a pilot friend, they call him when on leave and they offer him a huge allowance for a west Africa flight but he politely declined.

I believe when an office has receptivity workers tend to even look forward to get to work

Shiko-Msa said...

Mountainous where did you take the blue mountain? It was cute.

Shiko-Msa said...

Greamhouze a lot of companies have nothing like meetings. A few have an end year party but even then open dialogue is not the norm.

I don't mind making small time sacrifices for the office because in the end I love the satisfaction of a job well done. But working extra hours has to come from me not them.

Now your friend.... and the huge allowance. Anyway it's a small price to pay for spending time with family.

Kirima said...

The Avatar that comes up depends on the Gmail address I have logged on at the moment. Often enought I'm too lazy to switch to the one I use for blogger so I end up with Mountainous. On Gravatar enabled templates they display a different avatar.