Work and Life in the Mobile Society/Business Impact/Policies

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What are employer regulations and policies regarding mobile work and workers?

The establishment of regulations and policies for mobile workers must be carefully designed while considering the vague line between work and personal hours, and the possible disruption of one’s right to privacy. A “mobile worker constitutes an employee who travels continuously and whose current work location is his/her home or an assigned office”.[1] “The duties of these positions generally require the employee to meet and work off-site with clients/customers who are dispersed throughout a geographic territory”.[1] As a result, a clear understanding of corporate extension of authority is undermined.

Work Hours[edit | edit source]

The employer regulations and policies distinguishing work hours and personal recreation directed towards mobile workers are easily blurred. The adoption of corporate regulations and policies for mobile workers is always relative to the contractual agreement of an employee. Both the employer and employee can be subject to limitations agreed upon in a contract of employment. Thus, the contractual agreement of a mobile worker may subject the mobile worker to policies regarding limited Internet usage or even limited usage of phone calls. For example, a worker may have to follow information technology policies regarding the use of laptops and smartphones outside of the workplace.[2] The workers may be subjected to company policies and regulations regarding confidential corporate information, having been told to act faithfully and honestly and not to use any confidential information obtained in carrying on or in the course of work for personal use.[3] Thus, the employee’s obligation to corporate loyalty and of prudent and diligent behavior, in addition to a clear contractual consent, extends the authority of the employer outside of the workplace and unbalances the framework of application of policies and regulations.

Privacy[edit | edit source]

The difficulty of distinguishing between a defined work period subjected to employer authority and personal activity consequently raises the possibility of disruption to a worker's right to privacy. The employer may be limited when disrupting an employee’s privacy by disrupting any further use of an employee’s smartphone or laptop for personal use. Individuals should have a personal autonomy in which decisions of fundamental or intrinsic nature may take place without employer disruption. The employee must have the ability to make personal calls, for instance, on a personal basis. In addition, the concept of a private life may be difficult to create in a workplace, but that the concept should not be extended to the physical limits of the domicile of a mobile worker. The employee is therefore entitled to his right of privacy when exercising a mobile profession regardless of employer disruption. However, the employer may breach the right of privacy only if collective objectives of great importance are emphasized. The employer’s motives must identify with rational motives and applied means.[4] In other words, the employer may create policies and regulations establishing a limit on workers' access to their smartphones or laptops, but they must have access nevertheless.

The necessary establishment of employer non-disrupting regulations with regard to the use of smartphones and laptops may be achieved by generally limiting external communication to several close individuals rather than an extensive amount of persons. The corporation must avoid any form of absolutism in its regulations and policies in order to permit a form of privacy in the mobile workforce. This will not only assure that the corporation’s rational goals are being achieved but are rationally enforced thus not absolutist under personal hours. Hence, the employee may be restricting (to a certain extent) access to corporate information but under balanced conditions. In addition, the contractual agreement must clearly stipulate that the employee must not use corporate equipment on a regular basis but strictly to contact some individuals.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. a b P.112 Anonymous. Teleworking Policy; Statewide Personnel Policy Manual. 2004. [1]
  2. Anonymous. “Mobile Workers Unaware of IT practises”. Wednesday, October 8, 2008. Adfero. Ltd. http://www.itwales.com/797835_textonly.htm
  3. Civil Code of Québec. Prepared under supervision of Jean-Louis Beaudouin. Judico. Wilson & Lafleur. Montreal. Canada. 2006-2007.
  4. P. 42. Gagnon P.Robert. Le Droit du Travail au Québec. 5e édition. Éditions Yvon Blais. Une Société Thompson.Québec, Canada. 2003