Is it ever okay to look at an employee's mobile device?
- In the wake of reports that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer began conducting random checks of his staff members' cellphones, questions have emerged as to how much privacy employees have when using their own mobile devices. The answer depends on the circumstances, legal experts told SHRM.
- According to the SHRM Online report, 86% of employees use their own cellphones at work. Generally, employers have the right to monitor email and internet activity at work, but when employees use their own devices, the situation becomes complicated, says SHRM.
- Company policies can determine whether employees are entitled to privacy when using their own devices, and even that entitlement might depend on what state jurisdictions have to say.
Most of the questions surrounding workplace privacy seem to depend on employers’ policies and state laws. Basically, employers have the upper hand in workplace privacy matters most of the time if their policies outline the rules and don't conflict with states' privacy mandates.
Generally, employees, especially younger workers, expect employers to stay away from their personal data. HR must cooperate with IT and CIOs to ensure that employee data isn't compromised, and this should be emphasized during the formation of company policy on the matter.
Moreover, employers should always update those policies as the workplace evolves. This includes email and internet use on company time. With mobile technology, the lines between work and personal time are often blurred, hindering productivity.