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3G phones. Another staff headache

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A 3G phone could give an unscrupulous employee the opportunity to photograph or film someone in work and send it instantly to a colleague or friend, breaching employee confidentiality.

More seriously, 3G phones could be used as a means of sexual discrimination such as a male employee sending an image of a female colleague to his friends or co-workers.

According to business advisor Croner, bosses need to be aware of 3G mobile phones being used by staff to discriminate or harass their colleagues.

Under current employment legislation the use of mobile phones at work is at the employer’s discretion and it is their responsibility to ensure that employees are made aware of the guidelines.

But despite the new issues presented by 3G phones, the government has no plans to update the law. Therefore Croner urgeds employers to update and clarify existing polices to avoid a potential sex discrimination case.

It advises bosses to base a policy on standard rules of confidentiality and said employers were well within their rights to request their staff do not bring 3G phones to work.

Richard Smith, corporate and training manager and expert in employment law at Croner Consulting, said it would not be long until photo or video messages were used as evidence in a sex discrimination trial, unless businesses updated their policies on the use of 3G phones in the workplace.

“We can make a parallel with the Internet and email – it was virtually unheard of ten years ago for companies to have a policy on the use of Internet and email.

"Nowadays such policies are vital to ensure employees don't spend too long using company resources for personal means, and to avoid the circulation of inappropriate material, such as pornography," he warned.

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