Modern technology in the workplace is a vital tool, from mobile phones to Blackberries, but it should not be used to take shortcuts in the workplace. In today’s competitive marketplace, most businesses would not be able to survive without the very latest technology, but sometimes, companies and their staff can take things too far, and it’s important this is never allowed to happen.
There have been a number of cases where the use of modern technology has been a step too far. For example workers who frequently use their mobile phones to send messages at work, and there has also been a case where an employee “texted” his employer to say he would be off sick. Other breaches have involved online social networking websites where employees continue to use Facebook or Myspace during work time. It has even gone as far as MP3 players being used in the office, and cameras on mobile phones causing potential concerns over the invasion of personal rights. There are many cases like this which illustrate how modern technology can be exploited for all the wrong reasons.
On the other side of the coin, a recent employment tribunal decided that employees from an engineering firm, who were sacked by telephone, had been unfairly dismissed. The employees had missed out on wages, holiday pay, pension contributions and redundancy pay. Some of the workers at the firm did not receive the telephone message and when they turned up for work as usual the next day; they were turned away, which the tribunal ruled was completely unacceptable.
The employees affected by the case have now won compensation from their employer and are waiting to hear how much they will receive.
In the case of the employee who sent text messages to his employer to say he would be off work, the employee was sacked by the company and the case went to an employment tribunal. The company said he failed to follow procedures for reporting sickness or absence – but the tribunal decided the employee had been unfairly dismissed, and said a drop of “common sense” should have been applied to sort out the situation.
This case just shows that practices such as text messaging and other forms of modern technology, which are now so commonplace for the large majority of the population, can cause real difficulties in the world of business.
The best approach is to use modern technology to help make your business effective and competitive, but don’t use it to take shortcuts that could cause confusion and misunderstandings. The recent tribunal hearings have made businesses throughout the United Kingdom seek the expertise of employment law trainers to stay on top of the ever changing employment laws. It is a strong warning that all employers need to revisit their company policies and keep modern technologies up to date in contracts and policies. This will ensure there are fewer opportunities for conflict and confusion in the work place.
If if doubt it is always best to seek the assistance and advice from an employment law professional.
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