Employee cell phone policy

Q.

Cell phones!  How are restaurants dealing with setting and enforcing policies for servers carrying cell phones while on duty?  We have a written policy in our handbook, but are tested every day!

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Andy Miles, Owner/Manager, Sterling on Ice
Answer

Servers using cell phones make me furious. First, it sends a message that whomever the server is talking to or texting is more important than the most important person in the restaurant, the guest. But beyond the rudeness, cell phones are probably the dirtiest item in the operation—full of spittle and sweat from being held up to the face, and who knows what strains of bacteria from being kept in pants pockets. And to make matters worse, it is rare to give those phones a proper scrubbing like one would give to hands, a restaurant table or bathroom.

Some restaurants have complicated cell phone policies—silenced, not in front of the guest, only for emergencies, and so on. With a complicated policy, you set yourself up for debates you don’t want to have. (“It was my mom—I had to take it.”) I prefer a simple no phones policy. If family and friends know the server has no cell phone access at work, for a true emergency they will dial the restaurant (1990’s style)—and will think twice about doing so otherwise.

As for servers using their phones to make calls or send messages, the best policies liken it to a restroom or smoke break. It should be private, fast, infrequent, never done during a busy time, and employees must always wash their hands before returning to work.

Once you determine a cell phone policy, enforcing it should be handled with the same rigor as your other policies.

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Jonathan Deutsch

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