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Telephones: What you need to know

Most employers have rules governing the use of company telephones by employees, although the widespread possession of personal cell phones has made many of them obsolete. In some workplace settings, personal calls might be a minimal disruption, but in other circumstances where employees must leave their machines or other posts to use any phone, personal calls may be limited to meal or other breaks. Whatever rules are established, it is crucial that they be clear, reasonable in terms of employees' family responsibilities, well communicated to all employees, and enforced consistently.
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For similar reasons, rules restricting the use of company phones for personal business must make allowance for calls of an emergency or otherwise critical nature, although the availability of personal cell phones has minimized this issue.
How private is a personal call made from the workplace? Not very--as long as the employer informs employees that calls may be monitored. Employees cannot expect privacy rights to extend to work-related conduct or the use of company-owned equipment, supplies, or property, including’s telephones or other communications devices.
The federal Electronic Communication Privacy Act (ECPA) (18 USC 2510-2711), which amended the federal Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, bars electronic monitoring, unless one party to a conversation consents to intercepting or taping it. The federal Crime Control and Safe Streets Act (42 USC 3711et seq. ) bans personal phone calls from being intercepted without judicial authorization or actual consent. Without either, an employer may monitor an employee's personal call, but only for as long as it takes to determine whether it is a business or personal call. ...

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