Personal calls and texts at work – when is it too much?

Recently the Fair Work Commission confirmed an employer’s decision to dismiss an employee who had been warned about excessive use of their mobile phone during business hours.

In the case presented, the employee was found to regularly send out 50+ text messages per day and on one occasion, had sent 73 text messages in a four hour period. After several warnings regarding the behaviour, the employer dismissed her. She subsequently lodged an Unfair Dismissal Claim.

In addition, the employee was renting out their property as an AirBnB and the text messages were being sent in connection with this secondary employment aka the “side hustle”.

This case highlights that in some instances, things like secondary employment and excessively attending to personal business on work time can creep up in the workplace.

In the last few years the side hustle has taken off and with many employees now working from home at least part of the time, it would be easy for the lines to blur between time spent working for their employer and time spent working for themselves during business hours. Perhaps now more than ever it is important to be aware of blurring lines and how to manage them.

So what can you as an employer do? Firstly, ensure you have policies in place that address both secondary employment and acceptable use of personal devices in the workplace. You will need to have well thought out measures for monitoring compliance in a hybrid workforce as well as the consequences for non-compliance. Secondly, once you have your policies in place it is important to communicate the policy and your expectations to your staff and then uphold them.

If you follow these steps you are well on your way to minimising the chances of boundary creep in your business.

Is it time that you reviewed your policies for currency, effectiveness, and relevance? If you’re an employer who needs help to review, revise, or develop your HR policies get in touch via the contact form or by email

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